Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Last thoughts on Episode VII: Quasi Infinities and the Waning of the Force

Old Story

In 1977 the unprecedented success of Star Wars inspired the scholar Joseph Campbell to claim George Lucas was the best student he ever had. Thirty years later the only serious approach to Star Wars remains Campbell's, but that "archetypal" frame occlude more than it reveals. How many more scifi movies do we need to see about the "One" before filmmakers look back and reconsider what else it was that audiences were so excited to watch? Perhaps millions of us stood in line (some of us repeatedly) to see a a very particular victory. Star Wars didn't "mythologized" an ancient threat, it defamiliarized a threat that was all-too-familiar: the threat that American Cold Warriors posed to American freedoms, but also the threat those rock ribbed "dark fathers" posed to American's sense of themselves as a people. Americans do not want to suck, but in the waning years of the 1970s, it was not unreasonable to believe that that is exactly what was happening.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Thoughts on Episode VII: Delirious Coruscant

Opening, Star Wars (1977); Ken Ohyama, Interchange (2007)
What could be more shocking that seeing Luke Skywalker don Vader's helmet? The opportunity of Episode IV, is to revisit the shock that the original opening shot delivered to audiences in 1977. The equivalent of an endlessly huge Star Destroyer passing directly overhead. Although they had never seen anything like it, that was an image audiences were prepared to understand. While the huge scale and crystalline shape of that first Star Destroyer was mind-blowingly new, it was encrusted in white machine parts in the familiar style of a "2001-type spaceship." Lucas had morphed the look of Stanley Kubrick's spindly NASA futurism into an "overwhelming show of force." Immediately following the Episode VII opening text crawl, what at first appears to be the traditional background of star flecked outer space, should be revealed to be the reflection in a filthy puddle. As the shot climbs the audience will understand that we are looking up from the lowest depths Coruscant, the city-planet explored in the Prequels. But unlike the Prequels, the art deco towers we saw in the Episode I, II, and III, are now dwarfed by layered canopy of intersecting mega-structures. And the reflected stars are the flickering tiny lights of the megastucture's darkened under sided.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thoughts on Episode VII: Learning from the Used Future

Aquitania (1910); Millennium Falcon (1977)

In 1977, George Lucas changed the future in a single movie when he introduced audiences to the "used future." If all Lucas had done was make a 70s SciFi move, almost perfectly lacking in geodesic domes, that would be worth celebrating, but for the first time in the history of cinema Lucas introduced a future with a past. Before Star Wars all spaceships we conceived as totalities. The model was the Modernist Architect Corbusier's great admiration for oceanliners: "“The steamship is the first stage in the realization of a world organized according to the new spirit.” wrote Corbusier. For the Modernists, the ideal to be reached was "visual unity": as if a single hand had designed the entire world at a single sitting. Before Star Wars, all spaceships were Modernist; after Star Wars nothing was Modernist.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thoughts on Episode VII: Wish Upon A Death Star

Wish upon a Death Star

I am a sculptor. I consider what I do Fine Art, and believe it is a serious undertaking worthy of dedicating one's life to. Although I work to very hard to make what I consider High Art, quality can, and is, found everywhere. It's not just possible for Disney to make a Star Wars sequel that measures up to the original, it is important that they do so. This does not entail choosing an "auteur" with a powerful vision to helm the project, it requires the construction of a creative team.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thoughts on Episode VII: Attack of the Drones

Darth Vader's Funeral Pyre; Vader's post-pyre helmet

A friend asked me the other day what I thought Episode VII should be about. Before I even knew I had an opinion on it, I was weighing in: "It should begin the morning after Jedi ends, with Luke pulling Vader's helmet from the embers of the funeral pyre." The best way to think about the original Star Wars film is as an artifact of the late 1970s. But the "franchise" is something like a global-family story, one I first learned about when I was six, and have been invested in seeing through ever since. And my response reflected my desire for a really twisted, House of Usher, ending.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thoughts on Episode VII: SomethingsomethingsomethingDARKSIDEsomethingsomethingsomethingCOMPLETE

Death Star, Return of the Jedi (1983); Ben Fry, All Streets (2010)

I know what the Coruscant of Star Wars: Episode VI should look like. It is not the Coruscant we saw briefly at the end of rejiggered versions of Return of The Jedi, it is something very different. It is a world entirely transformed by the Sith. While the Emperor was defeated in Episode VI, his plan would have been already complete. I know this because I know what the original Star Wars movie was about: It was about George Lucas and his friends.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Prometheus (re)Bound

If you have not seen Ridley Scott's Prometheus, what follows will not make any sense. I decided to gently rewrite the film; to bolster what I felt was the movie's greatest strength: the cosmicism of Weyland and David. This is full blown fan fiction. The hardcore Alien and HP Lovecraft fan, William Powhida corresponded with me a great deal while I worked on this, and helped give what follows a distinctly Cthulhu feel, but also supplied a number of suggestions to help make the story fit squarely within the original Alien cannon. Spoiler Alert: What follows is a word for word script of the film's dialog and stage direction. What remains of the original is in black, my changes are in red. [The illustrator PJ McQuade, whose Prometheus fan art project inspired me to tackle this rewrite, has illustrated the revised opening sequence. Anyone else interested in illustrating other revised scenes should email me at]

Friday, June 8, 2012

For Those In Moscow: The unModern

John Powers, Big Gini (2012)

I'll be giving a talk tomorrow night at the Schusev State Museum of Architecture at 6PM tomorrow evening (Saturday June 9th). I'll talk about my art work, the project I just completed, as well as share some thoughts on architecture and what it means to modern (or unModern) at the moment. I was invited as part of an effort to make some small connection back to the Russian Futurists. But what has been most striking has been how very different a project it is to be modern than is a was to be a hundred years ago. Those early revolutionaries were working from small, shallow data sets. Today our worlds are just as fraught and confusing, but we robust data to mine and refine. Please spread the word.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Star Wars & Modernism: Episode VI - Return of The Ugly Americans

Below are the slides for the third part of a three-part, 8-bit, art history lecture on Star Wars and American Cold War Modernism I gave via Twitter. The Introduction and Episode IV are supplemented with text that give a key for those unfamiliar with some of the artworld figures mentioned and texts alluded to. This final section will be presented without comment. (Return to Episode V)

Star Wars & Modernism: Episode V - Cold Warrior Clones

Below are the slides for the second of a three-part, 8-bit, art history lecture on Star Wars and American Cold War Modernism I gave via Twitter. The introduction and Episode IV are supplemented with text that give a key for those unfamiliar with some of the artworld figures mentioned and texts alluded to. This, and the final section will be presented without comment. (Return to Episode IV)

Star Wars & Modernism: Episode IV - The Hope of the NEW

Below are the slides for the first of a three-part, "8-bit", art history lecture on Star Wars and American Cold War Modernism I gave via Twitter. (Return to Introduction for more explanation.) I have added text to this episode to introduce some of the charicters and texts that are referenced in the "slides."

Star Wars & Modernism: An Introduction

Earlier this week on twitter I 'tweeted' what might be thought of as an 8-bit art history lecture. By "8-Bit" I mean that, in the same way an 8-bit portrait is accurate, if radically simplified, this is a blocky generalized history. I was spured to give this lecture after Todd Florio passed on the artist, Tom Sachs' observation that "Darth Vader IS Hitler. Yoda IS Buddha." Sachs owns Foamcore, police barricades, and can make an almost entirely air-tight claim on NASA, but Star Wars is mine. Sorry Tom. The "slides" I tweeted yesterday come from a "primer" I assembled as a joke while working on an essay for Triple Canopy a few years ago. Just as Florio spurred me to tweet, Dan Phiffer has spurred me to blog (he assemble the tweets into a blog post before I had a chance to, happily forcing my hand). Just as I broke up the tweet-lecture into three parts, I'll repost the slides here in three "episodes," starting with Episode IV (you haven't missed anything, thats where it starts - and no, there will be no be prequels). For twitter I introduced each slide's link with a short phrase, which would be a little redundant here. Taking advantage of the blog format, I've added some text to this intro and Episode IV that explodes twitter's 140 character limit. Like all lecturers, I look forward to questions and comments. For those interested there is also an archive of my posts on Star Wars here. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


For some tie I have wanted to build an archive that would allow those interested to quickly search through old posts. Seeing how Sha Hawng was using Pinterest to reblog SWM posts inspired me to use that platform as a visual archive. So far I've created a number of "boards" each dedicated to a general subject. It isn't a perfect solution, but it seems to be a pretty good one. You shouldn't need to be a member of Pinterest to view the boards - if anyone does have any trouble navigating the Archive, or suggestions on how it could be improved, I hope they will comment either here or on my Pinterest page.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In Situ vs Site Specific

Vladimir Putin with Ronald Reagan; John Powers, Die Die Die (2007)
I'm traveling to Vyksa Russia today to take part in an arts festival. Vyska is home to a water-tower, built by the engineer/architect Vladimir Shukhov for a local metallurgic plant. The festival is built on realizing a connection between Revolutionary Russia of the early 20th century and the "street-art" of today. I won't be making any street-art, but I will be working "in situ"

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mind The Gap: Art & Ethics

MEI Chart from Andrea Fraser's “L'1% C'est Moi” in Texte zur Kunst 83; Michelle Vaughan's Instagram of vandalized Damien Hirst

I was on two panels recently. One was on the question of Art & OWS, the other was on Art & Ethics - I found myself making the same point at both: that high art prices are not the problem, they are symptoms of a problem. Along with high rates of mental illness, violent crime, and lower life expectancy, high art prices are not symptomatic of extreme poverty or extreme wealth, they are symptomatic of extreme gaps between the very rich and the very poor. Here is the point that I made to the OWS activists in the audience of the first panel, and the would-be artworld movers and shakers in the audience of the second: wealth is not the problem and the wealthy are not the enemy. The gap is a problem, and it's a problem for wealthy as well as the poor. If you are the richest American your life expectancy is shorter that the richest Greek, your likely hood of mental illness is higher, and the likely hood that your life will be marred by violence is higher. Corporations are not the problem, consumerism isn't the problem; the problem that plagues us all is the gap.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

What Mike Daisey Did Wasn't Fair - It Was Right.

Moses crossing either the Red Sea or the Reed Sea (one make a better story); Mike Daisey opening up an enormous can of worms

So when I found out that one of my favorite episodes of This American Life turned out not to be true I didn't care. Not at all, not one iota. I understood that the author had presented the story as fact, had urged his listeners to check his facts, but that he had lied. It was a great story, while it cast doubt on the practices of an well regarded company, and cast doubt on the enterprise of journalism itself, it in no way made me think less of the author, TAL, or The Washington Post. I still love Malcolm Gladwell even though I now know he lied throughout the story TAL broadcast. My lack of outrage is because when I listen to TAL I don't expect "All The News That's Fit to Print," I expect something closer to the way TAL describes itself: “It's mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always.” So while I was surprised and disappointed to learn that Mike Daisey had lied about the narrative TAL had broadcast - I was just as surprised, that by doing so, he had somehow besmirched TAL's journalistic credibility. When did Ira Glass graduate from being a talk radio Casey Kasem to NPR's Dan Rather?

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Twinkle Fingers Are No Way To Decide A Death Match, or: Why I Won The Flux Factory Art & Occupy Debate

I couldn't find a picture of my Deathmatch opponents, so I tried to approximate the best I could (I imagine Hrag is Master)

This past week Paddy Johnson of Artfagcity, Hrag Vartanian of Hyperallergic, the artist Bill Powhida, and I were invited to debate the topic of the art community's place within the Occupy Wall Street movement. The debate was hosted by Flux Factory and organized and moderated by Douglas Paulson & Christina Vassallo. The debate is now available as podcasts. As I told my fellow panelists, the debate format made this the single most enjoyable panel I've ever been on. It helped that I know and like everyone else on the panel, respect their work and opinions, but I really enjoyed that there was no pretense at agreement, no impulse to reach a consensus. It made for a fun night of arguing with a group who all enjoy arguing. Perhaps because it was billed as a "Deathmatch" I swore like a sailor (or maybe because I always swear a lot), so by that metric I clearly won the debate (except the method actually used: twinkle fingers).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Freedom Towers and Political Fear

David Childs presenting his "Freedom Tower" design (2006); Occupy Wall Street protester being bodily removed (2011)

Recently I was asked to contribute a piece for a group show in Hong Kong about the "ways objects produce space." Rather than contribute a sculpture and hope for some sort of latter-day phenomenological experience between ‘object’ and ‘subject’ however, I decided to revisit an urban design project that I had not worked on for over a decade. In addition to recreations of three architectural counter-proposals I originally showed in March of 2001, I added a fourth that has been gestating for almost a decade, but has suddenly taken on new relevance. I proposed building nine “Freedom Towers” arranged in a tight grid formation and completely occupying the available open space of Tiananmen Square. I wrote a post for Rhizome about the entire project, but in review my thoughts I returned to a video of talk I attended by David Childs, the Chief Architect of SOM's "Freedom Tower." Child's 2007 talk was called "Building and Fear", and while the fear he was addressing in his talk was the fear of terrorism  - a fear he calls "anti-urban" - it is interesting to note that he reports that the push to close of the streets surrounding the New York Stock Exchange began before 9/11. My project is concerned with an older fear that has been shaping of cities, the fear of political protest. A fear I might call anti-civil. Modernity is city life. Civilization and civility both draw their meaning from the same place, the ways we have learned to behave by living together in cities. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Comic Books are Dead III: Moebius Is Dead

Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project (2003): Moebius, The Incal (1981)
(Part I and Part II)

When I was in grade school I fell in love with the comic book art of Moebius. I was sad to hear he died. As an artist myself I think a lot about my first loves, Moebius was one of them. When I talk with parents who have children who like to draw and are curious how to foster their "talent" I tell them to find art the boy or girl will enjoy copying. I usually suggest Calvin and Hobbes, because Bill Watterson's drawings are actually very advanced, with sketchy traces of cross-sectional contour and other old master devices for describing 3D forms and spaces. For the children of my friends and acquaintances, Watterson it is a safe bet, the subject mater is tame, no one is going to get mad at me. No one is getting fucked by a dog-headed villain or dropped from a thousand foot drop and shot at for sport.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Seeing Red: Fabian Protests

George Washington on Wall Street; and an OWSer who didn't get the memo

I'm aware that, due to the Tea Bagger's tricornered pinheads, looking at OWS in relation to George Washington's Continental army is a mixed metaphor of sorts. And while I am more than happy to cede the Boston Tea Party to the Neoliberals, Libertarians and their flock of rasist retirees, the OWS movement, and its admires, would do well to consider the lessons of the long war of attrition that followed that initial tax revolt. According to the historian Joseph Ellis: "Washington did not believe he was weak, and he thought of the Continental army as a projection of himself." Clearly OWS movement has no reason to imagine itself as weak, it imagines itself as a projection of the 99%, but like Washington, there seems to be an urge for symmetrical confrontation: to shut down the G8, to demand that the Whitney Biennial cease and desist, and to call for a general strike on May 1st. Like Washington however, OWS can't win frontal assaults, they need to make what Ellis calls, a "Fabian Choice."

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thoughts on Triple Canopy's Open Letter to Kevin Kelly

Episode IV: A New Heap - Robert Smithson, Heap of Language (1966): Star Wars, Opening Crawl (1977)
"You remember, right? “Star Wars: A New Heap,” by John Powers, that elaborate Smithson-inspired disquisition on the relationship between Star Wars and Minimalist sculpture. Apparently sci-fi is the internet’s main artery, because we’ve never gotten more unique hits for any article." An Open Letter to Kevin Kelly - Triple Canopy
While no one has asked my opinion, but because it opens with a reference to the essay I wrote for them about Star Wars (and the very favorable review Kelly posted about it on his blog), and since I at least correspond with all the players (pretty sure the open letter was written by Colby Chamberlain) I felt I have the right to chime in. I take issue with the idea that What Technology Wants is war, but also with countering Kelly' observations on technology with a 40 year old quote. Triple Canopy's position feels dogmatic to me. Bending a knee to canon while ignoring what is happening all around us. Cassandra vs Pollyanna is a false choice. Things are bad - our problems are very real. But as Kevin Kelly points out to those who say we can't go on as we are: We never do.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Without Space, They Can't Hear Us Scream

Model of the Nostromo, Alien (1979); Model of proposal for Tiananmen Square Extrusion (2012)

For those in Hong Kong, I have a series of architectural models at the Saamlung Gallery, in a group show there called "No One Can Hear You Scream." The show takes it's title from the tagline of the original 1979 film Alien"a primal scene in its graceful collapse of science fiction and a broader spatial concern, and it is this possibility--space as something generated by a cultural object." My contribution for the show is a series of modest proposals, three of which I originally made as large scale foam core models for a show about public space in March of 2001. The fourth proposal (shown above right), of nine Freedom Towers transplanted from New York's WTC site to Beijing's Tiananmen Square, I've never shown before. With the help of my friend and fellow scifi geek, the architect Otto Ruano I was able to recreate the original models (long ago destroyed) as well as realize the fourth, all as 3D printouts based on CAD models (the future is indeed awesome).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

Tory author Lewis Carroll and, presumably, a more progressive Occupier.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

My father, who made his living as a psychologist, warned me to beware anyone who speaks nonsense words. "They're up to something" he'd say. "Their up to something that they are ashamed of." His example was always the conservative author, and likely pederast, Lewis Caroll: "All that cutsy shit is cover for what he really wanted, but was ashamed to say clearly." He told me. "Straight shooters shoot straight." Occupy Wall Street has to start talking strait or they are going to be mistaken for perverts and are not going to get what they want.

Monday, February 13, 2012


Georges Seurat 19th century anarchist pointillism; Damien Hirst's 21st century nihilist Spots
(Return to Part IV)
"Bourgeoisie" and "proletariat" are terms that may still have a certain amount of currency among a set of cultural theorist and political activists, but for most of us they are badly dated terms, especially in the case of proletariat, which few people use except in boldly debarked air-quotes. "Bourgeoisie" has a little more currency left because it still gets thrown around as an insult. The Parisians call hipsters BoBos (Bohemian Bourgeoisie). We all can picture someone, some place, or some event as being "bourgie" - even if we don't know exactly what it means, we know contempt is being expressed and that it has something to do with material wealth and comfort. But even if most of us no longer think of ourselves primarily in terms of class, these remain powerful frames, that shape the ways we think. At exactly the same time as workers and capitalist differentiated themselves from peasants below an aristocrats, artists came into their own as a highly regarded group outside of class, producing objects that were understood to be separate from the market forces that defined the classes art was understood to be outside of.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Biographical Extraterritoriality

Junkets: Gabriel-Julien Ouvrard (ca 1815); Damien Hirst 
(return to Part III)
When we use the word "art" in its modern sense, we are speaking back and forth through time. We mean the inherited traditions of European aristocracy, but we also mean other traditions from around the world that French King's would have dismissed as savagery, as well as all the things we do today that no savage or French King would have hoped to have understood as art. But because so much of what we have in mind when we conjure "art" to mind are things that belong to the past it is easy to forget how alien a territory we are crossing when we enter that state of mind. an important element of the contemporary art-game is to ignore that the past is the most exotic of all foreign countries, and that even our immediate past is a place we can no longer call home.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Buying The Art Game

Hasbro's Twister (1966); Damien Hirst's Spot Challenge (2012)
(Return to Part II)
Like "commodity", "consumerism" is not a word usually associated with art in any positive ways, but unlike commodity, that is exactly what contemporary art is: it is the art of consumerism. It is the product of consumerist societies; art made by consumers, for consumers. Because consumerism is a term that evokes alienation, complacency, passivity, obesity, malls, parking lots, sweat shops, big block stores, and wastelands of ocean-born plastic effluvia twice the size of Texas, its not surprising that artists and their supporters are shy to make any such connection. Its not a pretty mental picture - but it is also a false one. Every indicator of U.S. social dysfunction can be (and is) marched out as evidence of consumerism's failings, but this ignores the robust health of Japanese and Norwegian consumer society, and looks right past the bizar non-consumerist society the North Koreans have made for themselves.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spot Shops

 Andreas Gursky, 99 Cent. (1999); $30 Damien Hirst spot themed coffee mugs
(Return to Part I)
"Laundry detergent is a commodity," the art blogger Greg Allen reminded me over twitter recently. Allen, who like Felix Salmon is an art collector with a background in finance, pressed me to explain my assertion that art is not a commodity in any way-shape-or-form. Allen pointed out that companies like Dow "invest heavily to differentiate [these products] as brands, so as to get a premium price." He's right, but as my economist friend Guan Yang was careful to make clear to me when he and I discussed the matter, "there are various degrees of commodity-ness. Oil and gold are more commodified than pork bellies and orange juice." Art is a commodity-ness outlier, a black swan out at the far edge of the consumer economy's left field.

Spot Markets

Of vitrine and vitriol; the cynical mariage of art and commerce: 
Jeff Koons, Total Equilibrium Tank (1985), New Wet/Dry Tripledecker (1981); 
Damien Hirst, A Thousand Years (1990)
(Return to Introduction)
"Art is bought and sold, but it is more than a commodity." I plucked this quote from the comment thread below a Ben Davis post about the economics of being an artist (or lack-there-of). This sort of hand wringing reached it's hight within art world critical theory circles during the 1990s when A-list art theorists like Hal Foster and Benjamin Buchloh made their careers casting doubt on the cynical "commodity aesthetics" of the late 1980s. By then the anxiety was already a century in the making and it while it has waxed and waned, it has remained a central concern. But right now there is new urgency to the question of "art's commodity status" in the wake of the circus surrounding Damien Hirst's Complete Spot Paintings. And with that new urgency there is a renewed desire to stake some special ground for art. A territory outside of, or above the vulgar and banal market floor. I believe this is an understandable, but short-sighted strategy. Art isn't more than a commodity. Art is a commodity. To see a thing for what it is, now, and not what it should be, isn't defeatist, it is the only way to anticipate what a thing can possibly become. And because art can and does function according to market forces, is not a victory for the cynics. Art behaves differently than all other commodities and all other markets.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Cap'n Crunch promotion; Larry Gagosian promotion

When I am asked to give an 'artist talk' for students, something I very much enjoy, I like to derail the me-train ("...and then I said...and then I was like... and then I thought... me,me,me MEEEE MEEE") - and instead of talking about myself, take the opportunity to discuss a topic or idea that I've been worrying. Recently I've been thinking a great deal about consumerism as an ideology - and have been trying to imagine how I would explain myself to a classroom full of art students. On this blog I have explored what consumerism means in terms of smartphonesriots, and Star Trek, but haven't touched the ring of hell I am most intimately acquainted with: art. I've put off discussing consumerism in terms of art, because of the anxiety over the "commodification of art" is so central to art criticism and theory. It is a given embedded so deep within the flesh of contemporary art, questioning it in any way, shape, or form is almost impossible, but the contemptmockery, and even pity Damien Hirst's "The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011" presented itself and I can no longer resist the urge to explain myself to my own people in terms they most understand and are best equipped to appreciate (and least inclined to).

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

See Red: W.A.G.E. Asks "Why Are Artists Poor?"

Damien Hirst Spot Glasses (2012); Kyle Petreycik, Introspective Glasses (2010)

On the heels of recording a conversation about ArtPrize and social justice I was invited by the artist William Powhida to a lecture titled Why are Artists Poor? by the Dutch economist/artist Hans Abbing and sponsored by an organization called W.A.G.E. - a group that is seeking to certify nonprofit arts organizations as artist friendly. I commented on Ben Davis account of the lecture, and Bill and I posted both our reactions to the lecture on Rhizome a couple days ago, but following the lecture we also took part in on a meeting for W.A.G.E. and then, along with the photographer Chris Verene, the critics Ben Davis and Martha Schwendener ended up finishing out the night discussing economic justice and the arts over a few beers. Of the group, all of whom, to some degree or an other have been involved with the Occupy Wall Street movement, I am the least engaged (I am not involved in W.A.G.E. or OWS, beyond joining a couple of the large marches and publicly denouncing the early hi-jinx of Occupy Museum), but one of the things that has come up over and over since Zuccotti was first occupied, is what is the lesson artists should learn from OWS.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Seeing Red: ArtPrize

From left to right: John Powers, Paddy Johnson, Kevin Buist, 13' Jesus

Following a little dust-up on twitter a couple weeks ago, I recorded a long discussion with AFC's Paddy Johnson and Kevin Buist the director of artist relations for ArtPrize, the world's largest single cash award for visual artist ($250,000.00, from a half million dollar overall purse). Today Paddy posted the entire conversation as a series of short contained videos. In the first video Kevin explains how the prize works (about a minute and a half in). I agreed to the discussion, in part, because I knew I'd be speaking to Kevin, someone who is part of the ArtPrize organization; it was my chance to voice my concerns about what should be an important annual international event for the artworld, but is instead something, as an artist, I would feel uneasy taking part in. The free market ethic of ArtPrize makes ensuring economic justice more, not less, important to the competitions success.

Monday, January 23, 2012

⚈ – – – ⚈⚈–⚈

Ralphie's secret decoder ring, A Christmas Story (1983); the Ralphie-like, and ring-laden Damien Hirst

I think we have to start entertaining the possibility that Damien Hirst is a lot funnier than anyone is giving him credit for:
A member of Gagosian staff tells me that the key paintings which correlate specific colours with letters of the alphabet are the start of a game: if you look at each painting carefully, a sequence of colours will reveal a hidden word, and if you get the word first you win a spot painting.
I want to go on the record now with my guess (and it rhymes with Methamphetamine):

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Spotless Mind

Damien Hirst; Methamphetamine, 2004

Recently we found out that anyone who sees all of Damien Hirst's spot paintings will win a print valued somewhere between $3,500.00 and $50,000.00. Greg Allen believes making the trip would be hellish - but he has two daughters and needs to be back home in time for the school play. Felix Salmon did the math for an imaginary plutocrat making the trip in gilded age style (sans private jet) for $108,572.00.

This all got Jennifer Bostic thinking. She believes that a couple of hipsters could do the trip in better style than any bloated plutocrat could ever hope to achieve. UPDATE: And if our travel savvy "underemployed" hipsters sold their two prints, their trip would not only cost $102,804.00 less than Pictor Vinchuk's trip, but even if the prints come it at the $3500.00 low ball, the hipsters still come out ahead at the end of their trip. With that, allow me to leave the rest of the post to our guest blogger, Ms. Bostic: