Bradley Wester

Artist to Artist #2 (informal thoughts on recent symposiums)

The conceit of the Artist to Artist series is to use a personal letter format to a real person to place current art theory, practice, and/or exhibitions in relational context with one another in real time. In this my second iteration, I write the contemporary art historian, Ann Albritton, friend and former colleague, about various related symposia and art writings that I have encountered over a period of a few months in 2012.

Biennale de Lyon, 2011

Dearest Ann,

I’ve been attending lots of seminars and talks here in New York lately and they have me thinking. Missing you, I will lay down some of my thoughts, pretending we are still near enough to continue this conversation over one of our long and interesting dinners. One seminar, hosted by the New Museum, was called, Independent Art Spaces Symposium. Reps were there from spaces and ‘non-spaces’ around the world including Korea, Cairo, Mexico, Miami, and New York discussing just what constitutes alternative in an institutionalized world. Much came down to money and survival, and the discussion of labor with regard to exploitation of artists and staff. It was noted that many alternative places especially in the 2nd and 3rd world are alternative by default, some in competition with one another rather than fighting the same fight, some wanting ultimately to be part of the establishment. In the U.S. it seems difficult to avoid institutionalization. Artist Space of New York was represented as an original alternative space, but one that has made its institutional compromises in order to survive. Participant Inc. clearly has the integrity of an alternative space, and so the lack of money and bare subsistence.

I met an artist on one of the panels there, Deana Lawson, photographer. She ‘inherited’ a very non-traditional artist discussion group called 6-8 months from Kara Walker. She’s renamed it 68 months, again so it never becomes institutionalized, and she represented a different kind of alternative space, one that doesn’t even exist until people are gathered, more of a salon really. It’s simply a loose group of artists, academics, historians, musicians, a chef, etc., that meet to discuss a topic, text or idea. It will only last a period of 68 months, before it is handed off to someone else I suppose. Deana invited me to the most recent gathering, hosted by another alternative space called RECESS in Soho.

The text we were given in advance was about China’s influence in Africa, demanding collusion in squashing any kind of dissent that threatens their interests there. How do we define or create space for dissent in an age of advanced government sanctioned silencing? Much of the conversation came down to what role art plays in this. Is art a space for dissent or has it systematically been muted? James Baldwin was quoted on the role of the artist. Some of us in the room were uncomfortable with his “grandiloquent claims” for the artist and the artist’s responsibility to society. It was pointed out how times have changed since those words were written, before Kennedy and King’s assassination even. In our post-cold war, post-9/11 world, a world that is touched in its entirety by ‘late’ market capitalism, with an art world fed more and more by institutionalized MFA programs, Baldwin’s words seem at best nostalgic for a simpler, poetic time. We talked about whether we have that much faith in art today. Some said they didn’t. During Baldwin’s time, art seemed quite naturally a space for dissent even when it was not directly political, because it was ‘other’, because it stood on the outside, was made in the margins. But is there an outside today?

Related to the symposium on independent art spaces, our conversation was about trying to define the (alternative) space for dissent, and wondering if one still exists. Baldwin suggested such a space existed when he wrote that what separates artists from other people is our cultivation of aloneness, which most others avoid. I thought of social media and its impact on artists and the art world today. We are so connected now. We are all on the inside. Writer/curator Dieter Roelstraete skillfully examines this notion in his excellent article: On Leaving the Building: Thoughts of the Outside. Our inside-ness may have rendered us afraid to be alone, even if our sense of belonging is only virtual, but I’ve come to realize that it is from the inside we must act. There may no longer be agency from the outside (a la Baldwin’s aloneness) if an outside exists at all. Does a falling tree make noise in the woods if no one’s there to hear it? The myth of the solitary genius alone in his studio has been deflated for some time now, made apparent by the prevalence of socially engaged and political art coming out of leading MFA programs. 68 Months was indeed an interesting evening for me, to be out of my normal circle, and, incidentally, to be in a white minority. I’ll go again.

I was later at another symposium, speaking of the outside, called “We Who Feel Differently,” also at the New Museum, on gender difference and the state of queer politics. There, an academic/activist named José Esteban Muñoz called for a “de-hierchicalization of difference”, a “shared indignation” and a “critical hope”. He talked about the true ‘commons’ as not a place for consensus but one of conflict and turbulence. There was lots of talk (and this was a couple weeks before Obama came out for gay marriage) that the gay right to marry is in part the “heterosexualization of queerness” which leaves out, even hurts, the messy queer edges: transgendered, mix-gendered, radical fairies, ‘hardcore’ drag queens, S&M, promiscuous, etc. Another gay writer, scholar, playwright and friend, Sarah Schulman, wrote on her Facebook page minutes after Obama’s announcement, that it is not gays who’ve changed the majority but the majority who’ve changed us. In the resulting discomfort and shame of the AIDS crisis, we have volunteered to be normalized, losing our once radical voice and utopian impulse to change the status quo. So we find ourselves on the inside of a hetero-centric institution called marriage. While this has been the objective of the LGBT lobby and its leaders for some time, I’ve never been comfortable with homo-normalization, and feel invigorated by these voices. “We Who Feel Differently” was a symposium that seemed to call for a new radicality, a way of reclaiming the potentiality of queer space, even if it is now on the inside.

Since writing this I’ve bought and read most of José Esteban Muñoz’s excellent book, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. He thesis hinges on the work of several queer writers and artists, especially O’Hara and Warhol, Jim Hodges and González-Torres, their essential hopefulness and the importance they place on ephemera and the everyday. It gave me insight into my own work; clearly I’m heir to this line.

About a month ago I went to the e-flux gallery/reading library on the lower east side for a panel discussion on: Critical Knowledge Production in Art, Science, Activism, with Maria Elena Torre, Public Science Project New York, Oliver Marchart, political theorist Vienna and Lucerne, and Danna Vajda, artist and writer New York, moderated by Nora Sternfeld, ecm Vienna. A week after that I spent the afternoon watching a live feed of the 3rd FORMER WEST RESEARCH CONGRESS in Vienna. Both focused on ‘research’ and ‘knowledge production’ in the fine arts and its relation to the political: “Is Contemporary Art—art in and of the epoch of neoliberalism—on its way out, together with the system that made it possible?”

Wow. Is this an academically sponsored attack on contemporary art, as we knew it? Or a timely re-examination of art’s relation to the world supported by arts natural predilection for change?

Marchart from the get go divided art production into two parts, mediated and non-mediated, and only spoke to art that mediates, making the assumption that all of us present were interested that kind of art only. By mediated he meant art that is of the political kind; unmediated art (art who’s main concern is aesthetics and form) was likened to “navel gazing”, a phrase often repeated throughout the evening.

I am certainly not interested in an indulgent art as the term “navel gazing” implies, or in art as a luxury commodity either. I’m attending these talks, reading these articles, because I am experiencing a fatigue with, and slight suspicion of, work that merely offers yet another version of aesthetic, formal, or anti-form manipulation, no matter how seductive and engaging. And I’m tired of abstraction, figuration, or pop-surreal redux without a radical contextual change. Yet, as much as I am passionate about and influenced by the politically charged theory I read of late, I also have little tolerance for the ‘reading-libraryas-activist-art-exhibit’ or for “Aesthetic Journalism” as art, both de rigueur formats of elite MFA program graduate shows and prominent international exhibitions. They bore me to tears.

“Artists are here to disturb the peace.” —James Baldwin

There is clearly a sea change taking place in the art world. Think of Baldwin and that era of artist in America. And now with what looks to me like two divergent even antagonistic directions in art practice today that, like in other times in art history, pit the future against the past: a political and socially engaged art vs. an aesthetic and studio driven formalist art.

It is easy to find fault with the aesthetically driven kind, when this work can so easily be co-opted by a commodity-driven gallery system. The vulgar distortions of reality perpetuated by the more and more exclusive A-list galleries, art fairs, auction houses and their cult of super rich artists and collectors is how most laymen see the art world. How many hundreds of millions now paid for the most expensive artwork sold at auction? And the many overpriced art schools here in America must perpetuate the fantasy of “get an art degree and become a rich and famous artist” to rationalize rising tuitions in a shrinking economy. Meanwhile economic and political systems fail across the globe. Is it any wonder art’s role is being reconsidered?

In Europe, where there is still a moral imperative to keep market forces out of education, we find a greater sympathy for and abundance of political and theoretical approaches to art, and this in turn has influenced our elite and more academically oriented art schools here. This kind of work could afford to exist in Europe separate of the market thanks to generous state subsidies. Governments there have historically supported their academies, their cultural institutions, and the artists themselves. What looked to me like utopia from this side of the Atlantic during the 80’s—such support we never had in the U.S.—now looks like an incestuous condition for the insular looping of ideas, and grounds for its critique. Has art of this kind in Europe lost touch with its audience, become too academic, too esoteric? Has it become elitist in spite of its good intentions to work for change and the greater good? Whatever the case, the current economic and immigration crisis across Europe, and the resulting budget cuts and conservative policies, will have no doubt both a positive and negative impact on this.

Surely one of art’s unchanging characteristics, or charges if you will, should be to disrupt ways of seeing, therefore ways of knowing. Here I can almost understand Oliver Marchart’s (at the e-flux Critical Knowledge Production talk) replacing ‘critical’ for ‘political’ knowledge production, since the political left has historically attempted the disruption of systems toward change and justice through activism. However, after it disrupts, art, unlike political activism, should not be responsible for the specifics of knowledge production nor for its organization, but rather only for the initial (and continuous) disturbance—the un-ordering of the ways in which we think we see and know. This ensures that art will indeed look very different to us in the future, but its basic operation the same. Otherwise, art making becomes a very arrogant and pompous thing.

Marcuse’s critique of Marxist aesthetics, encountered during my MFA Thesis research, will always stick with me: That so-called art that stands in opposition to something is horizontally equal to that which it opposes. Art must rise above opposition (not in the elitist sense), remain autonomous and therefore free of all authority but its own. This is art’s sole distinguishing factor from all other human work, and therefore its most radical characteristic. In this way, art is political. I know the ‘autonomy of art’ debate is valid, but I’d like to revisit it. The challenge is to create an autonomous art that is not vulnerable to cooption, not throw out the idea altogether. Art’s definition then should begin with its disruption of our field of view, then continue by influencing the knowledge producers who follow.

Art is the ‘avant garde’ of political activism, that which comes before it. Artists may in fact be the original “organic intellectuals,” as Oliver Marchart defined political activists who became knowledge producers by default. So artists are not knowledge producers so much as knowledge catalysts.

Relevant to this debate, is another article I just read by the artist Nada Prlja, born in Sarajevo, with the somewhat confusing title: The mimicry of artistic practices is not a novelty – why art institutions still lack a method to support this phenomenon? She claims, and I agree to a large extent, that there is a discrepancy in the international art world, where artists now are like secretaries taking notes from the powers that be on hard to understand concepts, trying to keep up but ultimately feeling out of the loop:

“… marionette’s threads [that] are being pulled by the curators/educators/institutions. It is they, rather than the artists, who are providing the marionette (the artists) with a voice and directing its movements, in their desired directions.”

Prlja goes on to describe a rather binary view of politically oriented art production: art that simply observes and represents ‘designed to fail’ conditions, and art that is oppositional to, and takes initiatives against, ‘designed to fail’ conditions. These are rather depressing choices. We must be either journalists or activists it would seem. Either way, it risks an arrogant ‘artist knows best’ syndrome. Aren’t there conservative assholes out there that might also be great artists whose work might contribute to social justice in spite of themselves? Who are we as a group to be so good intentioned, so politically correct in our subject matter?

It all comes down to a crisis of faith I sometimes think. That’s faith with a small ‘f’ and not a return to Modernism with a capital M. (Baldwin?) To have faith in art today is not easy when global neo-liberal economic forces cannibalize everything, even activism, and turn it into a product for sale and profit. (See the MacDonald’s “It’s your lunch, Take it” ad campaign and how it coops the Occupy movement.) I see this as a complicated transitional moment for art that is neither a full rejection of the (failed) utopian modernist legacy, nor a full acceptance of a neo-Marxist activist mandate. In these precarious times, the overtly political makes a kind of sense. But could this impulse be too safe, over-intellectualized? Most of us agree, at least on some basic level, that art is in service of change. But does that mean art is activism? Some will argue, myself included, that art is art because it works on subtler, more mysterious levels. Maybe we need a leap of vision. Either way, art must remain art. And by that I mean it must distinguish itself from what is not art, which is everything else.

Prlja’s entire “Designed to Fail” thesis and her two modes of artistic production, much like Marchart’s favoring mediated over unmediated art, might be seen as a reactionary attempt to rectify a crisis of faith in art by forcing it’s social relevance. I propose that there are three key conditions and limitations imposed on contemporary art today that contribute to this crisis: 1) What I will call the rectification of arts social status, which I suggest Prilja and Marchart to be involved in. 2) What Prlja calls the “ritual of mutual legitimation” between artist and curator. (The marionette strings.) 3) What Jan Verwoert calls “conceptual self-justification”, what many of us post-conceptual artists feel compelled to do—justify our every creative move. (See Verwoert’s excellent article, “Why Are Conceptual Artists Painting Again? Because They Think It’s a Good Idea”.)

This triangular need to rectify, legitimize, and justify—certainly does not sound like what art or artists are supposed to be doing. It sounds more like an echo of the very system that art by its nature should stand against.

OK, gotta end this and make some art.

I love and miss you!


Reply by Jaimie, Submitted on 2012/07/12 at 1:20 pm

Art’s definition then should end after its disruption, but continue to influence the knowledge producers.

Art both has no definition, and has the definition of having no definition. It exists in the place of opposition, exists in the place of bringing together that which does not wish to be unified. It is like the alchemist, who smiles while mixing that which would never have mixed, and using it as a method by which he can demonstrate to both the material and the observer that their conceptions of reality are little more than reassuring illusion. It wishes to break and build simultaneously. It wishes to make uncomfortable, it wishes to provide additional mirrors, it wishes to create destruction and growth. It cannot end. Art has no definition, and has the definition of having no definition, and thus is exempt from the concept of beginning and end. The universe itself is art, is beautiful, is infinite, is forever, is chaos. The Everything, from the smallest fundamental building block of matter to the largest cluster of galaxies. That which makes it art is the presence of a deciding factor, the presence of the curator, the presence of a conscious (or semi-conscious) species, the presence of presence itself. Thus, the beginning or end of art is only a mirror, reflecting the beginning and the end of the curator, which in grounded terms is the beginning and the end of humanity. Thus to say that art is influencing the knowledge producers is a tautology, being that art is an extension only of us, the curators, and that the knowledge producers are another arm of us, the curators. We influence ourselves. Art, the infinite, the chaotic, influences Knowledge, the finite, the harmonious. No human, no curator, can be placed in only one category.

Maybe artists are not knowledge producers so much as knowledge catalysts.

Yes, maybe artists are not knowledge producers. Indeed, they make no claim to permanent knowledge, other than the knowledge of what has already happened, and still they bicker about the inability to separate context and interpretation from event regarding this knowledge of what has already happened. Knowledge, the finite. That which can know everything and still know nothing. Knowledge is the very root of the capitalist doctrine. What is knowledge? What is this pursuit? It is the desire to accumulate, the desire to produce surplus, the desire to create a repository of things which may only be useful for a short time and take a great deal of energy to create. The search for knowledge, the desire that more or better be produced, is exactly the fuel that creates the capitalist institutions that art resists so vehemently. Art then, has not been subverted, but has subverted itself, to be the driving force behind that which it resists. Which of course makes intuitive sense, as that which focuses on having no definition needs something to have a definition to distinguish itself from. La Différance, the need for an opposite to have a definition. The price for art and resistance to exist is something to resist.

I am interested in the word catalyst. A catalyst needs the materials of the reaction to exist, prior to becoming. It is not required to exist, as the situation would carry on without it, though the situation would not be as efficient or beneficial. The catalyst itself is useless without the exact scenario that it can improve. It is a molecule that exists only to enhance others, and has no purpose otherwise. If one is born to help, and only help, and have no purpose otherwise, is one angry? Servant, Slave, No life of ones own, except to improve others. Is this better, worse, or indifferent? Higher, lower? Equal?

There is something else here, the combination of the concepts that art is a catalyst and is not needed to exist, but that it accelerates the processes of capitalism/knowledge because this is the only way it can exist. Ah, I see. It is choice. Art chooses to be the catalyst. It chooses to make the situation better, or worse. It wishes to accelerate, maybe for no other reason than to expose direction and create excitement.

A catalyst must choose to exist. whoa.

This need to rectify, legitimize, and justify—certainly does not sound like what art or artists are supposed to be doing. It sounds more like an echo of the very system that art by its nature should stand against.

Rectify, legitimize, justify. More of a courtroom than an art discussion. Or is it? We have come to a place where the definition of art has blurred to the point of complete ambiguity. It is everything and nothing. A brilliant artist in their retreat, creating true masterpieces but who never shows them, or a Hollywood celebrity who creates poster art for mass consumption and sells the junk and the originals to collectors in their massively overfunded upper echelons. Are they existing in the same definition? How can this definition be reclaimed?

Well, by accelerating, of course. Accelerate directly into the sun, into the black hole, into the death. Rectify, Legitimize, Justify. Art desires suicide. Phoenix, zombie, or deity will arise, and maybe all three. I say give it a push. I choose to be a catalyst.

Reply by Michelle Standley, Submitted on 2012/07/13 at 5:56 pm

There’s so much here that one could comment on. But to pick one: I want to add a second voice of support to your comment, ‘I have little tolerance for the ‘reading-library-as-activist-art-exhibit’ or “Aesthetic Journalism” as art.’ I share your frustration. How might art provoke dialogue with those who stand outside the circle of theory-informed elites? Loads of explanatory text ain’t the answer, that is for certain.

Reply by Bradley Wester, Submitted on 2012/07/16 at 6:12 pm

To Jamie (first comment above), my Quantum Philosopher—

I’m just amazed at our collisions. How is it that this artist found a Quantum Mathematical Philosophy nerd, who is a natural poet, to collide with? Thanks so much for your brilliant riffs on my blog entry.

A few words on your words, (Double quoted words are mine from the article, your words are quoted, unquoted words are mine written now—The blog won’t show italicized or underlined or bold words):

““Art’s definition then should end after its disruption, but continue to influence the knowledge producers.””

Of course, ‘Art’ is ultimately undefinable, in that it can be anything, impossible to know what it could be next. And I do essentially believe that so long as an artist calls it art, it is art. I mean, please, do we (not you and me, but the Royal ‘we’) still need to argue Duchamp? There is no place for the “But is it art?” argument, or “My four year old nephew could do it” anymore. I suppose I am trying more to get at what art ISN’T. But if anything can be art, then do I have the right to say what isn’t, even if an artist or curator is saying it is? Maybe I’m questioning if there isn’t something new that has developed, an artistic, research-knowledge-based activism (aesthetic journalism?) that should have its own name. But not the Art name. Because I am arguing I suppose for art’s autonomy.

Even what Duchamp did by choosing and hanging a urinal in a gallery, was to de-contextualize it, therefore free it from its meaning and usage. Did he not ingeniously and brilliantly make autonomous the everyday? So radical and yes, political. He changed everything. But it’s how he did it that makes it so, I don’t know, how do you nail a thing like art down. Of course we can’t all be Duchamp.

Also to clarify: There is much to-do these days over the relationship between artist and curator. One debate is that the curator thinks him/herself too much like the artist, and/or one who appropriates the artist’s work for his/her own agenda. The argument is, should it not be the artist and the artist alone that says, “this is art, and this is its context.” And then there is the article I quoted, the case of curators and academicians manipulating the strings of the artist marionettes. This I believe to be true and disturbing, at least in part.

““Maybe artists are not knowledge producers so much as knowledge catalysts.””

“Knowledge is the very root of the capitalist doctrine.”
“Art then, has not been subverted, but has subverted itself, to be the driving force behind that which it resists.”

I believe that what you say here is a serious negative. Do you? Are we agreeing? I get to that point in the next section when I say:

““This need to rectify, legitimize, and justify—certainly does not sound like what art or artists are supposed to be doing. It sounds more like an echo of the very system that art by its nature should stand against.””

But what do you mean when you say:
“La Différance, the need for an opposite to have a definition. The price for art and resistance to exist is something to resist.”

I am saying, that is Marcuse has said, that art should not exist on a direct opposing, horizontal plane, for it therefore would be horizontally equal to what it resists there. ‘Art against domestic abuse’, for example. Should/can art be that precise, so targeted, so moralizing?

Do I really want answers to these questions? I love the grays of meaning that arise when I read you. Too often I want a black and white answer. As usual you turn me upside down and I see new meanings and possibilities.

So you have reminded me that while art does not do well with horizontal resistance/opposition, it does indeed need resistance in order to come into existence—Its natural resistance to the status quo, to the Kantian ‘fear and anguish’ of the human condition perhaps, to injustice in the broadest sense, even though a specific injustice may inspire it.

“[A brilliant artist creating masterpieces, the poster artist of mass consumption…] Are they existing in the same definition?”

I know you are not an artist, and have probably not seen as much of the art and exhibitions I’m questioning here. So: I am starting from an assumption of sorts, that there is a difference between a ‘contemporary artist’ and a commercial artist, and a difference between a contemporary artist and an artist who happens to be making art today. A ‘contemporary artist’, for the purposes of argument, is one fully engaged with her place in the world and his relationship to and awareness of art history, such that it is—a linear narrative, false and full of holes. The vulgar way of putting it is that there is a difference between a ‘serious artist’ and a commercial artist, a difference between a ‘serious painter’ and a ‘Sunday painter’. Yet of course a commercial artist and/or a painter who only paints on Sundays could indeed be a brilliant contemporary artist. (Another necessary contradiction.)

“How can this definition be reclaimed? Well, by accelerating, of course. Accelerate directly into the sun, into the black hole, into the death. Rectify, Legitimize, Justify. Art desires suicide. Phoenix, zombie, or deity will arise, and maybe all three. I say give it a push. I choose to be a catalyst.”

I’ve been saying all along that the systems failing all around us are failing because they need to fail. ‘Bailing out’ the failing systems is not working to save them, and will make the ultimate fall from much higher, thereby faster—Acceleration!

“Rectify, Legitimize, Justify. Art desires suicide. Phoenix, zombie, or deity will arise, and maybe all three. I say give it a push. I choose to be a catalyst.”

So let it happen? Art’s suicide? Is that what you are saying? Let the rectifiers, the legitimizers, and the justifiers, rectify, legitimize, and justify, so the faster it will fail!

Am I a catalyst for failure? Is that the point, for art to help the ‘knowledge producers’ move toward failure, be lucky to fail? Are we describing arts utopian function, to destroy what has come before for something better? Can this be done without a moral component? Is art autonomous then even of the moral?

I think it has to be, in order for it to be truly revolutionary.

Comment by Sarah Petersen, Submitted on 2012/08/21 at 6:02 pm

Bradley, I agree with so much of what you’re saying here. Any attempt to rectify art’s social status, by art, seems like such a tiny endgame. I do still appreciate art’s attempts to rectify other situations, and I do think, as artists, that’s part of what we can do. I’m reminded of the review on this year’s Berlin Biennial by Jakob Schillinger in the summer Artforum (which you’ve probably already read), the final line of which reads, “The question (posed by the curators in a recent issue of Camera Austria), What can art do for real politics? might actually serve a different interest: What can politics do for art?” The ever-legitimizing, amorphous blob that is the art world, always ready to incorporate anything cool into its massive body, seems now to be legitimizing itself through mere proximity to actual political revolutions in which people risk their lives to make change happen. I have to ask myself this question – quite seriously, am I doing this, too, in my art practice? Just out of grad school and finding time to reacquaint myself with active participation in the political world, I still wonder (and don’t know) whether a more tidy compartmentalization of politics and art (separate but equal?) might not work much better than trying to accomplish one with another. I do remember Ranciere convincing me of something similar in the last year…. And yet, at documenta this summer, I still found myself most struck by and appreciative of those artists attempting to use art as a mirror for politics and its consequences. That’s the work that’s stuck with me.

Also, I agree that art’s best aim might be disruption and interruption, influencing (rather than assuming the robe of) knowledge producers. Perhaps there is another angle, though – I think about Janet Cardiff’s pieces, how she uses historic site-specificity to create not just awareness but empathic response. Adrian Piper, too, is such a master of this; the informative shock and the empathic feeling come simultaneously when you’re with the work. I hate to sound like a 19th-century school marm, but I still think part of what art has always done for humans is create an awareness of others’ plight that’s not about statistics and the news but about empathy. Sometimes artists get the elements of the equation totally wrong – we’re “interpreting,” after all, not merely representing the facts (that’s part of our zone of freedom, right?) – but the result, even when based on flimsy, first-person analysis, can still be profound and necessary on the receiving end. It’s strange to talk about this ethical element of art making, because I think many of us feel really uncomfortable taking it on as a place to make work from – it does sound retrograde, and we have to maintain the freedom to be wrong, selfish, experimental, whatever. A lot of “systems-based” work from the 70’s (and after) seems to be hiding its motives from the safety of obscurity but still motivated by just such an empathic break-through. How embarrassing! And humane! But I think that, now that the formal shocks of 20th century art movements have done what they can do, we’re left with now, with next, with who, with where, with what’s up, rockers? What IS up? I think many of us can’t comfortably compartmentalize our responses to What’s Up along aesthetic and political lines, anymore. Personally, I feel like there’s maybe not enough time left (or name your favorite endangered resource) to isolate these responses from one another. When people want to know what I think of Occupy now, I want to say, Let’s talk about what Occupy was talking about, not about Occupy. I can’t comfortably go meta, anymore. The game is still on.