Monday, December 14, 2009

Further notes on the relationship(s) between art and money

A recent NYTimes profile of graffiti artist BNE contains this gem:

“I don’t see other graffiti writers as my competition anymore,” B.N.E. said. “Now I’m going up against the Tommy Hilfigers, Starbucks, Pepsi. You have these billion-dollar companies, and I’ve got to look at their logos every day. Why can’t I put mine up?”

The answer to his question could be multiple: because he puts his 'logo' up illegally (as a coworker groused not all that long ago), rather than buying space in our lives to display it, as Pepsi and Starbucks very lawfully do; because he occasionally puts 'BNE' on products that the BNE does not describe or in other ways attach to, as in the above picture; because his logo has no product it is selling; or because the ostensible product, 'BNE' himself, seems to resist being sold.

In all of the above cases, but particularly the last three, the relationship between the art object and capital is problematized. Generally, the buying public prefers, say, the Thomas Kincaide approach, wherein art exists only for and in tandem with their consumption (and even formally adopts the glow of dollars as its organizing principle—the famous 'painter of light' moniker as easily could be 'painter of capital'). Even 'high art,' spins inexorably toward consumability, as in Gabriel Orozco's move from margin to center, visible in the move from empty shoe boxes to painting with gold leaf.

I would posit that this is more the source of my coworker's discomfort than the legal/illegal issue. When art forces us to think about the relationship between the aesthetic and capital, rather than simply accepting it as an unspoken and unexamined law of the world, it makes us uncomfortable. Because in pointing up that particular relationship, the art object also forces us to become aware of the patterning of our own existence, the way that dollars script our movements as directly as they do "Thomas Kincaide's" factory of paintbrushes. This is also the answer to BNE's question about his own logo. Ask Gabriel, BNE, what happens to the artists at the margins—the centripetal logic of capital will begin with gallery shows just like the one the Times (an organ of centrism if it is anything) is using as its raison d' profile.

When your own logo is a billion-dollar brand though, will you have won?

For earlier notes on this question, see 2008's "On the definition of art"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Just got word that a piece of mine ("The The Weather Project") responding to Olafur Eliasson's 2003-2004 Tate Modern installation "The Weather Project" will be included in 2010's issue 4 of 1913: a journal of forms.

Very exciting. 1913 is one of the most beautiful journals in existence. It's an honor to be part of the project.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meanwhile, at other blogspots...

With + Stand puts out the call for its much-anticipated Lisa Robertson issue.

Dig it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Israeli gesture

The Paper of Record has as its electronic lead this morning:

As Obama Begins Trip, Arabs Want Israeli Gesture

I can't help but read gesture for its primary definition, a movement of the body/hand to express an idea or emotion. So I did a Google image search for Israeli gesture... Here's my Flarf photo essay. I call it "A tank is apparently a good platform for an Israeli Gesture"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Winning Order

For $102.59, or $2.59 funds laid out, I just ordered from SPD:

The Sophist, Charles Bernstein, Salt reprint.

Clampdown, Jennifer Moxley, Flood editions.
8x8x7, Colin Smith, Krupskaya books.
Debbie: an epic, Lisa Robertson, New Star books.
The Weather, Lisa Robertson, New Star books.
The Men, Lisa Robertson, Book Thug.

Thank you SPD for this gift certificate; thank you Yao Ming for the inspiration; and thank you Zack Tuck for taking my order. I apologize if my head cold made me sound less excited than I am. I am excited. I am coming to get these excellent books on Friday. This is my excited face:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chn mthrfckrs wht

SPD's contests have now won me an Anne Boyer book AND a $100 gift certificate. This time for a poem about Yao Ming in which all the words are misspelled.

Living large.

Friday, May 8, 2009


"Reality is too complicated to be fully expressed by poetry – or any other art form."

So said Jerome Sala at the Best American Poetry blog last month.

At first blush, most sane people would agree. After all, how to press into words or paint or ones and zeros or any other medium the infinite complexity of, say, global capital (my own favorite quest), or even just the blogosphere, or the sixty-something-million registered cars in the U.S., or the particles emitted by those cars, or the microscopic creatures killed by those particles, or the less-than-microscopic creatures affected by those microscopic deaths, or, or, or... Just ask Juliana Spahr—it's a list that does nothing but expand.

Still, while Sala goes to Hegel, I go to Adorno, my favorite roadmap for my favorite quest. And so I find myself worrying somewhat less about the intent to express reality—holding no illusions about my brain's ability to contain such sublime totalities in model form—than about the inevitability of refraction and reflection.

This to say: my poems do not express reality because I will them to do so; reality, refracted, sets their forms. And if my poems are any good, and I leave that to others to determine, it is because they point up the distance between what my brain expresses and what reality forms.

Quoting my dissertation prospectus, quoting our man Adorno thrice:

“[Aesthetic form] is the nonviolent synthesis of the diffuse that nevertheless preserves it as what it is in its divergences and contradictions, and for this reason form is actually an unfolding of truth.”

“History in artworks is not something made, and history alone frees the work from being merely something posited or manufactured: Truth content is not external to history but rather its crystallization in the works.”

This is to say, aesthetic form is history—the contradictions of social life at a given moment in history, visible in the form of an artwork as “ununifiable, nonidentical elements that grind away at each other.”

Grinding, cousin.
Just thought I'd remind y'all.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Cousin is a Rock Star: a photo essay

Strix Vega rocked the Starry Plough on March 28th 2009 and the stars, my cousin Andy, were out. The iPhone blurriness captured the twinkles. My only regret: no gong-banging shots!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


1) The Canessa Reading was great. W+S is glowing about it. You can tell when you peek into the garage at night.

2) Craig in Australia.

3) Not enough sleep.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happening: lately & soon

This past weekend was a beast, with the excellent Marxist Working Group's excellent conference Friday/Saturday on Crisis Contradiction and Contestation in Postwar Economy and Culture (that's a mouthful!), Saturday night to Petaloo for Tami's bday bash @ Stephanie's, then Monday (is Monday the weekend?) to the CAIS meeting at Head Royce's ski-lodge of a campus, which felt rather over-steeped in dollars.

So, now back at school thinking toward the week, with much prep work looming for W+S if it's to take shape before Saturday's reading.

And speaking of! W+S goes live and direct, thanks to Erica Lewis and the Canessa Gallery.

Details here.

For the price of a single burrito, so much poetry!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jacket 36

announces itself.

As ever, the one-stop shop for real discussions of poetry.

My review of doble-Mlinko's there, of course.

Anyway, initial response: can we just call this the Rachel Blau DuPlessis issue? She's present and accounted in articles on Oppen, Guest, Creeley, and herself. That's some serious representation. Late-mid-century, where you at?!