Monday, April 21, 2008

'NETFEED/ART: Artistic Suicide Challenge
(visual: Bigger X at Toronto arraignment)
VO: A guerrilla artist known only as No-1 has challenged the better-known forced involvement artist Bigger X to a suicide competition. No-1’s broadside against Bigger X, which calls him a “poseur” because “he only works with other people’s deaths,” suggests a suicide competition between the two artists, to be broadcast live by “artOWNartWONartNOW.” The one with the most artistically interesting suicide would be judged the winner, even though he or she would not be around to collect the prize. Bigger X, who is wanted by the police for questioning in a Philadelphia bombing, has not been available for comment, but ZZZCrax of “artOWNartWONartNOW” called it “an intriguing story.” '

[Fictional news blurb from the beginning of chapter 21 of “Mountain of Black Glass” copyright 1999, by Tad Williams (Volume Three of “Otherland”, a four volume SciFi novel).]

There has been a lot of commentary about the Aliza Shvarts/Yale Shock Art Thesis incident. Roger Kimball has an essay well worth reading, Yale, Abortion, and the Limits of Art. There is another piece at The American Digest. The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent post on Yale's attempt to close the barn door after the horse left.

One thing in the comments section on that last really struck me. "Dre", responding to an earlier commenter, posted the following;

"I think this Yale thing is terrific. The artist's work has provoked wild-ass reactions all over the place, just as much of our art must do. "

It is only a short distance to this:

Karlheinz Stockhausen on the 9/11 attacks: “What happened there is—they all have to rearrange their brains now—is the greatest work of art ever. . . That characters can bring about in one act what we in music cannot dream of, that people practice madly for 10 years, completely, fanatically, for a concert and then died. That is the greatest work of art for the whole cosmos. . . I could not do that. Against that, we composers are nothing.” "

The passage at the top of this post is from a science fiction book written in 1999, but is a follow-up on a passage in an earlier volume of the series (I think volume one, [I'm not sure, I lent it out] City of Golden Shadow released in hardback in 1996) where Bigger X causes a car wreck with fatalities as a type of "forced involvement" performance art. This fiction predates the Stockhausen quote by at least five years.

The nihilistic direction of modern performance art (and the avant guard in general) has been easy to predict for a long time. That knowledge has in fact been a part of the popular culture.

Too bad that the artists haven't noticed it. It tends to put the lie to their "groundbreaking" and "transgressiveness" if everyone can see it coming.

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Blogger Barry Pike said...

The notion that anarchistic social provocation is a necessary function of art is, to me, intrinsically peculiar. That much of the 20th Century's artists seem to consider it not merely a feature, but a requisite, inherent characteristic of "great" art, has always struck me as absurd.

Deconstruction, and even at times destructiveness, like chaos and randomness, can be effective as expressive tools, but there comes a point where the artist's emphasis is not on the truthfulness of the statement of the idea, but rather on the extremity of the statement of the idea.

That kind of art annoys the hell out of me, philosophically, regardless of the medium.

3:07 PM  

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