Interview with Ruben Verdu: Updated February 20, 2008
I never met Ruben Verdu. This is not quite true. I met him in 1997 in a large warehouse-turned-loft in the then still desolate Willamsburg, Brooklyn. But I didn’t really meet him, because although he appeared for a minute to grab a bite, he was gone before I had time to converse with him. I saw him again atop a Brooklyn roof bar-b-q about a week later, and we spoke for a few minutes.
I then met Ruben again in Williamsburg. But this time I had been in New York for two-years, and yet still hadn’t had a substantial chat with this person I had heard of since my undergraduate days at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
My interest in his work, and his ideas, stem from the spectral presence of his reputation within this institution, but also from my first introduction to his work, Mater Politica. I recall seeing this “installation” and being compelled to try to understand it. At that time I grappled with objects, texts, and colors that I would eventually come to understand as “signs.” However, I do believe that even if I had had an understanding of semiotics, this particular project would have been elusive particularly because it employed a system that seemed to resist any kind of interpretation.
This interrelation with Ruben’s art perplexed me, because up to this time my work, and most work at UTEP, did not elicit this experience. I remember hearing how this person, Ruben, for he was only known as Ruben, would argue, contradict, expose, debate, and deconstruct the weak underpinnings of our then beloved art instructors. Yet I still lacked an understanding of his work: a waving fake-fur flag dangling from a free-standing industrial fan; text on a wall; and a sound of a humming motor.
It is crucial to understand El Paso, its surroundings, its sister city Juarez, and the fine arts department at UTEP. El Paso and UTEP are comprised of approximately 75% Mexican American citizens, with many Mexican nationals living in both Juarez and El Paso. Juarez, particularly its most desolate and impoverished colonias (shanty towns), are within walking distance of UTEP and its fine arts department. Sights of burning rubber tires, mountains with biblical texts, houses made of cardboard and refuse material, and three-legged dogs were as commonplace to an art student’s view as were slides of Picasso, Richter, Nauman, and Sherman.
UTEP is a college where most of its students commute from home to school to work. The UTEP Fine Arts Department was, during my tenure, heavily constructed of Bauhaus educated instructors and idealogues, many in love with the notion of experience and aesthetic production–beauty for beauty’s sake. Classes were, and I believe still are, discipline specific: drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, metals, and ceramics. Video, film, audio, and performance were discussed buzzwords but not materialized or taught.
Within a span of 5 years (1994-1999), and after Ruben went on to CalArts and the Whitney Independent Study Program, UTEP had graduated some of the most compelling artists I have ever known (Gilbert Chavarria, Adrian Esparza, Victor Quezada, Ismael de Anda III, and Veronica Duarte, to name a few), with three of the four going on to CalArts. This is of particular import because up to this point UTEP, in its history, had only placed two other graduates in reputable art schools: Sam Reveles at Yale and another at UCLA. I believe this Deleuzian event occured due to the influence and work of Ruben Verdu. It is funny how a place can change, if even for a while, through the presence and influence of just one person.
During my time at UTEP I learned, through this spectral presence, that there existed a possibility of making and interpretation that I had yet to understand, and yet that I desired to learn. That countering institutions, organizations, and pre-determined means of producing and interpreting culture were things to be sought-after and championed. That education and authority figures, albeit not all doctrinaire, were to be challenged and displaced, and that the only realm left for those not willing to succumb to popular culture was the practice of art.
The thoughts above are some that I share with Ruben in this interview, particularly through the mode of questions, particularly from an indirect approach. This interview began on December 20, 2006, and is ongoing. We both felt that an ongoing dialogue, separated by thousands of miles and personal responsibilities, yet connected through digital means, would be a more lively and challenging structure in which to continue this interrelation. It is odd that this interview has worked out this way, for as the reader may gather, it mirrors the elusiveness and infinity of our first meeting. –Sergio Munoz-Sarmiento
December 20, 2006
Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento: Ruben, I remember first seeing your work at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), sometime in the early ‘90s, around 1994. It was a piece with a running electric fan and some text, I believe it included the words: “Prima la porta…” I remember thinking that this work was very different from other student work I was seeing there at the time (or any other work in El Paso for that matter).
Ruben Verdu: In truth, you are kind of making a hybrid, and putting together parts of two pieces that were shown, I think, at end of 1992. The main installation took advantage of the settings which I’ve always found very curious. As you know, three walls of the gallery were made out of panes of glass that run from floor to ceiling, an issue that not only gave that space its name, the Glass Gallery, but also a certain look of vitrine, of display. The fact is that it wasn’t very accommodating space for some artists, especially painters, photographers, and others that rely on walls to show their work. That’s why there were permanently a number of floating walls to compensate for that lack of support and opaqueness. It was also high, and overlooking across the border into de colonias of Ciudad Juarez. From there one could enjoy, almost everyday, a full blown sunset. Can you see? It displayed a concrete panoramic, a Benthamian privilege. So I began by emptying the space.
(Mater Politica, Installation View, 1994, U.T. El Paso Glass Gallery)
It just happened that the only opaque wall that opposed the otherwise transparent scheme of the gallery was placed in front of the door. I could, therefore, organize the viewing accordingly. The installation was titled MATER POLITICA. This was highlighted on that wall which, painted entirely in black, displayed the title of the show in monumental dimensions. I rigged, as well, an industrial fan that blew a huge mass of air toward the door, and prevented a confident entrance into the space. In front of the fan, and blowing with more vigor, there was, most importantly, a white fur flag with eight nipples on each of its sides.
(Detail shot, Mater Politica, 1994, U.T. El Paso Glass Gallery)
As you know, Gilles Deleuze, was very fond of analyzing territorialization practices. He believed that territorial animals are amazing because to constitute a territory has always been very close to the beginning of all art. One image accompanied my thoughts, then, all the time, the etruscan Capitoline she-wolf that reared Romulus and Remus, that became the symbol of the establishment of the Roman Empire, and a model of our modern concept of State.
Can you talk a little bit about how you ended up in El Paso, UTEP, and what your experiences in both that city and the university’s art department were like, and how they affected your work?
I arrived to El Paso from a year traveling through Mexico and Guatemala. I arrived very politicized, and with intentions to return to the south soon. I was at the time trying to obtain the Mexican nationality, can you believe it? I’ve always dealt with my kind of blurred, undefinable, mistaken identity, a bit of this, a bit of that, naturally, without surprise, without shock.. A couple of months ago, I meet in Barcelona two other alumni from UTEP. One is a very good friend of mine, the writer Roger Colom that lives now also in Spain, but that was born and grew up in Ciudad Juarez. When I first met him in El Paso, he began talking to me in Catalonian. We did great work together, my best work while in school, and we presented it at the other side of the border. It was so important to work that way!
(El Organismo del Animal. La Raya. Ciudad Juarez. 1992)
(El Organismo del Animal. La Raya. Ciudad Juarez. 1992)
January 3, 2007
Thanks for the clarification–I always tend to mix up things. But you raise an issue I want to address, so this is going to be a long question, and that is, if I’m correct, much of your work tends to reference and/or be influenced by an amalgam of “disciplines” and “discourses”: theoretical, historical, literary, and philosophical works (Bentham, Deleuze, Borges, Roman history). Not that this is a solitary endeavor, but it’s certainly a “mode” of working that is not too popular or evident today, and perhaps even within the last 20-25 years in contemporary art (in the critical non superficial way that is). What role do these discourses and practices play in your work, and how important is it for viewers to identify them via visual signs or gramaphones?
I always felt uncomfortable seeing how a culture totemizes its artists. I know this might seem kind of disingenuous, but I’ve met some of the most celebrated, most mediatized, most trivialized contemporary artists, and I’ve seen how we’ve encumbered their endeavors as if they’ve toiled suspended in a vacuum, destined, or almost exemplifying an unresolved call for ancestral heroics. This kind of individualism, you know, should be considered as to belong to the pre-Historic, that is, far from the concerns of a collective memory. Truth is that our culture is mostly cannibalistic. It’s very important to acknowledge this ingestion. What I know of Bentham, of Deleuze, and of Etruscan Art, is far from what they meant. What I’m quoting is what I misread, or misrecognized; in short, what I’ve missed, what I consumed.
We are all products of an infernal machinery, and I say infernal because it is quite Dantesque at all levels. I aim, above all, to be affected by this monstrous dimension. My ability to respond to it, my rhizomatic responsibility, can only take place there, after I submit to it. How could I otherwise bring my proposals to the scrutiny of an audience? I’m not more than just given to that continuous and pulsing attempt that tries to gain the complicity of others. Isn’t this the basic condition of our mutual exchange, of this right to public discourse? I’m given this right to exhibit what, my symptom, or ours?
I relate to your conception of blurred identities. But perhaps your outlook on subjectivity is exemplary (as exemplary as one can be) of these “situs” and of your own “blurred, undefinable, mistaken identity, a bit of this, a bit of that…” In this light, are you, and your work, proposing an “alternative” or new subjective space, or assuming Cadava and Nancy’s problematized question a few years ago, which could not be without the “who”, “who comes after the subject?”
The masses come after the subject, or, as I just said, go after the subject. The subject is simply a minuscule attempt at an ordering construct. The pulse of the many goes, however, clearly beyond this production of a discreet self. Let’s be honest. A priori, we don’t have agency in the many. Action from the many is only spontaneous and dependable, meaning that it is reached in coincidence. But let me formulate a possible scenario. Now there are some that propose to serve the tenets of a horizontal cultural exchange, and have acknowledged the existence of what they call a relational aesthetics. This brings about a shift in production priorities up to a point in which is not the traditional subject that manages his or her gestures, expressions, or exposures anymore. Production is spread across. Inevitably we begin to subordinate ourselves to a certain fate, a certain uniformity, a certain social scale that we cannot call subjectivity anymore. That’s very exciting. The most acknowledged subject is the public subject, the famous individual, the constantly monitored self that is at the mercy of the tumultuous demands of the crowds. The rest are statistics.
I ask this because in your work there seems to be a desire for a certain eye, a certain ear, and a certain emotive-analytical framework, one to be encountered, and Nietzschean perhaps. In this sense, the work reminds me a bit of Tom Stoppard, Gaspar Noe and Jorge Luis Borges, particularly in the sense that these individuals (for the most part) seemed/seem to have an audience that is more hermetic than diffused. Assuming I am correct, are you an artist’s artist?
For me, it is very important the existence of this quotational environment, but in my work I’ve tried to avoid any meta-takeoffs that will not insure, at least, a visceral response from my audience. I hope it is not necessary to go beyond, and exponentially analyze what should be simply the engagement of a very heterogeneous element that is hardly understood, and that I hold in part responsible for the completion of the work. In any case, it is very hard for me to imagine who is looking at my work, and who I wish was looking at my work. Notice that you’ve mentioned four excellent producers of narrative. More than a construction of a subjectivity, I admire how well they unleash an agency, an array of potentialities within the most constrained of circumstances, within the inevitable. This inevitability is ultimately, I think, the real function of the quotational.
May 21, 2007
It’s neither the commercialized or romanticized that bothers me. It’s the historicized aspect the one that really interests me. When I say totemizing, I refer above all to the ways in which culture condenses all attention into someone, how it renders cult to them. Culture really goes beyond the quotational here. The quotational works more like a common denominator. To quote is to disperse knowledge, is to include details into the amplitude of a bigger need, to articulate thoughts into other discourses. It’s user and abuser friendly. Totemizing, however, as all cultural condensation goes, is found throughout history as characterized by glorifying the individual endeavors of a few, and omit the general conditions that made possible their deeds. It answers solely to a transcendental need, a kind of infantile need. Most of humanity is barred from the economy of history. Within that economy, it is as if we were accepting our anonymity, our disappearance in exchange of encumbering the life of a few we believe represent us in the best light. I find this, of course, to be just of little consolation. What transcendence are we really wishing for? …one hundred years? …one thousand years? …one million years? History has a time limit too. We must think of it as already dying.
Time entered the equation of capital long time ago, that is, no one can deny its accumulative value. The present cultural milieu, however, does not care about this concept of a time silo. Of course not, it destroys its sense of contemporaneity, its sense of its own endeavors. Otherwise, It’s always caught up by what was done by others in the past. On the contrary, therefore, it values speed and, above all, loss of memory. I really enjoy witnessing today’s response to this traumatic marking of history. Things come and go quickly today, and leave a very faint trace. Indeed, they tend to achieve rapid disappearance. It makes me very happy to somehow witness the so called end of history, this kind of paradigm in which facts and ideas only matter a short moment. To be condemned to repeat things is not so bad after all. In any case, reason has proved not to be a strict guardian against this recurrence.
The disappearance of this collective memory does bring back this cult of individualism that characterizes the cultural landscape today, but it foregrounds it, more than ever, as the mere theatrics of a parade. Don’t forget that individualism only takes its monstrous proportions within the transcendental flow of history anything else is just a momentary recognition that has already lost its claim to persist through time, its claim to a historical dimension. At the end, this new individualism is just pleased to glorify itself in the now knowing nothing else, forgetting the forgotten.
A mise en scène allows us in most instances to insert a fiction into the real. That’s its only window of opportunity. It proposes fleeting the impositions of the real through that opening. Collective memory has tried for centuries to legitimize itself as an aspect of the real. We cannot say that it has accomplished that. It keeps fleeting our expectative through numerous holes. There’s no rationale here. It’s purely an aporiac force. As I said before, I keep seeing a need to flatten the picture, to fill our culture with a sense of achievement. That means, at the end, nothing more than to forget. Think, for instance, about that short story by Borges “Funes The Memorious.” He is prostrated in bed, condemned to relive every detail of his past as passing through his exhausting and infinitely comprehensive memory. I think, it is very possible to translate this to our contemporary culture, one that has been saturated with so much accumulated precedence that it ultimately justifies its complete deliverance from the past. I think, on those circumstances, it’s a very understandable reaction. Accepting this is accepting that we will be certainly condemned, however, to repeat things.
Perhaps, I will be mistaken in suggesting that the quotational has imposed an overwhelming burden on culture. We should be careful to see the difference, however. The quotational is too parochial to weight on us like this, and it’s too opened to misrepresentation to generate such understandable reaction. We are talking then about something else. In Barcelona, for instance, the past has built a territory of possible actions that defines artists as professionals within a established economic order that has not changed much from the last one hundred years. Collectors buy objects, and institutions take perhaps a little more risks, but the dynamics of cultural production have radically changed, and there is nothing that can account for it. The most interesting cultural productions are not fruit of a well established professionalism anymore. They are a consequence of short lived efforts that rarely find time to build everlasting coherence. It is indeed a fifteen minute chance, and on that premise little can be expected on the order of entering a durable economic exchange, the one that fostered before the development of more studied and meticulous ideals. Culture is, therefore, floating on a rich field of amateurism. Not bad! We always suspected that it was a rich field, no?…so why shouldn’t we now fully embrace this heterodoxy?
October 11, 2007
Aha, this is a good way to continue our chat. You mention Bourriaud’s “Postproduction” and “Relational Aesthetics.” What else are you reading and more importantly, why? Is it fair to say that the dearth of art criticism and art theory is at an all time low, or perhaps that art historians have come to be worship 20th century “icons” and monuments?
November 27, 2007
Howdy, he, he…time goes by fast, and I like to continue our exchange…
It seems, indeed, that art criticism, and, in general, any commitment to theory have lost its footing on the affairs of the world. It must be all due to the general acceptance that emphasis on theoretical issues are all a legacy of “rationalism” and that this old fart has been finally put to rest for good. No doubt! The scale of our perspective today has change. The information era places us inside a huge panopticon with huge panoramic vistas. We look at the world through the keyhole of the screen. We know, however, that is not a powerful and omnipotent vantage point anymore, but a polymorphous ambiguity is what we are witnessing instead, a fascinating hallucinogenic nightmare that keeps us locked into the moment of the experiential present.
Rationalism can only be successful if applied to discreet bits of information, to narrow vistas, to ever so detailed issues, and that has proven to be perfect for the maquinations of science and technology. But, the general awareness today, on the contrary, is a list of contradictory, irrational and apocaliptic facts. Too much information competes to claim truth on its side. Science and technology cannot counter-balance this sentiment anymore. Neither has been able to sustain a redeeming faith on its delivered goods. Their miopic solutions are, in fact, the ones blamed today for the spoiled state of our planet. Immediate personal indulgence replaces a future built on a constructive change. That is clear.
Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics” is interesting to the level that it exposes just that, the rooting of intranscendental practices. I mean nothing negative in saying that, but it is worth noting that it avoids ambitions beyond those of the formality of the moment, and the actuation of a lived present. In other words, not trancendental here means no place for an activity that goes beyond today into tomorrow. It means there’s no postponed benefit. It fully adjusts itself to the use-and-throw-away tactics of our contemporary materialism.
February 18, 2008
Querido Sergio…I expanded the first question [on "Postproduction" and "Relational Aesthetics"] because, as I was saying to you, I think that Richard Sennett’s point of view is crucial to our discusion…Enjoy!
It seems, indeed, that art criticism, and, in general, any commitment to theory have lost its footing on the affairs of this world. It must be all due to the general acceptance that emphasis on theoretical issues are all a legacy of “rationalism” and that this old fart has been finally put to rest for good. No doubt! The scale of our perspective today has change. The information overload in which we’re immersed places us inside a huge panopticon with huge panoramic vistas. We look at the world through the keyhole of the screen. We know, however, that is not a powerful and omnipotent vantage point anymore, but a polymorphous ambiguity, a fascinating hallucinogenic deluge that keeps us distracted and locked into the moment of our experiential present.
Rationalism can only be successful if applied to discreet bits of information, to narrow vistas, to ever so detailed issues, and that has proven to be perfect for the machinations of science and technology. In general, however, our sentiment today is a list of contradictory, irrational and apocalyptic facts. Too much information competes to claim truth on its side. Science and technology cannot counter-balance this sentiment anymore. Neither has been able to sustain a redeeming faith on its delivered goods. Their myopic solutions are, in fact, the ones blamed today for the spoiled state of our planet. Immediate personal indulgence replaces a future built on a constructive change. That is clear.
Bourriaud’s “Relational Aesthetics” is interesting to the level that it exposes just that, the rooting of in-transcendental practices. I mean nothing negative in saying that, but it is worth noting that it avoids ambitions beyond those of the formality of the moment, and the actuation of a lived present. In other words, not transcendental here means no place for an activity that goes beyond today into tomorrow. It means there’s no postponed benefit. It fully adjusts itself to the use-and-throw-away tactics of our contemporary materialism.
Perhaps we should look more closely at the vistas proposed by Richard Sennett in “The Culture of The New Capitalism”. I think he exposes more explicitly than anyone the kind of inevitable consequences this new culture places in our laps. In that context, all is rulled by an intense hyperactivity, in the markets, in politics, etc. This is definitely a sign of a lively culture! But it’s well known also that this hyperactivity difficults our capacity to concentrate and to pay attention. He reminds us that “…when citizens act like modern consumers they cease to think like craftsmen”. The most intolerable enemy of our contemporary culture is any kind of meritorious accumulated knowledge that by force halts the momentum of this superproduction, of this infinite growth. The use of knowledge takes a heavy toll on the open flux of time. It tends toward specialization, essencialism and dogmatization. Time don’t flow well around facts; it manifests itself better in the accidental, in the surprising, in the unknown, in the catastrophic.
The monstrous carries with it a great deal of passivity. That’s a very fascinating issue to me. Passivity is so all over the place, but it’s, all at the same time, so utterly disregarded. The word monstrous brings with it all the underpinnings of its latin origins. Monstrare meant to show something to the scrutiny of an active audience. Under those conditions, the monstrous found itself fully instrumentalized by entering the regiment of the sign in an exceptional way, not determined by convention, but by fascination. After all, to see is to believe. Without having done anything actively to generate so much attention toward itself, this purely displayed one continues, nevertheless, enduring its demonstrative status without attempting escape.
Truth is that there’s no escape. The monstrous belongs to the ground where the passive one rests fulfilled and happy. There, the visual constructs are mainly unnecessary. Tactile and olfactory stimuli are much more relevant. This is where I prefer to begin. That’s my point of departure. In 1998 I showed in Dallas LOVE WITHOUT CONTACT trying to lay out a crude genealogy of visual origins. I manage to move the left and the right walls of the gallery to the middle reducing the space to an extremely narrow cleft only nine inches wide. On those two walls I hung a couple of large paintings in such a way that the conditions of the spatial collapse forced them to be displayed facing each other so close as to almost having their surfaces touching. Love was an important acknowledgment here because love is blind, because this type of intense contact, this being-so-close, this type of alter-knowledge, cannot be constructed through the visual; within it, we cannot step back to take a look, there’s no chance to distance oneself from it. This opening, this cleft, was a reminder, however, of the elemental structures necessary for a visual experience to take place. It began deploying the most minimal amount of depth and panoramics on which to construct successfully our visual capabilities, but this opening was, also, the beginning sign of antipathy, difference, separation and distance.
February 20, 2008
Wait. I want to go back a bit to your expanded answer mentioning Richard Sennett’s, “The Culture of The New Capitalism.” Although I have not read it (yet), what you seem to touch upon is something that I have been thinking about due to our (the U.S.’s) current political situation in relation to the presidential election. What is astounding (here in the U.S.) is the amour fou relationships with Barack Obama and the perpetuation of and desire for a cult-of-personality. Mix these two factors with his heavy messianic overtones and we have a great cocktail of disaster waiting to happen, all in the name of political correctness, “post-racism,” and affirmative action. This situation is strengthened and buttressed by the U.S. media’s glamorization of Obama via the mass dissemination of his spectacle and his media/campaign constructed image. It is astounding to see and read so much content which is produced by the media and fanned by Obama which completely avoids any engagement with real (ontic) political situations and ideologies. I follow your quote here for direct correlation: “all is rulled by an intense hyperactivity, in the markets, in politics, etc. [...] But it’s well known also that this hyperactivity difficults our capacity to concentrate and to pay attention.”
And then of course: “He reminds us that ‘…when citizens act like modern consumers they cease to think like craftsmen’. The most intolerable enemy of our contemporary culture is any kind of meritorious accumulated knowledge that by force halts the momentum of this superproduction, of this infinite growth.”
It is mind-numbing to even begin to think that the concept of “hope” and of “the new” is grounded on the nexus of ignorance and stupification, without even a reference to two 20th Century historical figures who were well versed on image, cult status, and empty but crowd-moving rhetoric. But is this not what faith and religion are about? Have we, in the U.S., become the Church-run state, on our way to becoming the new Rome, the Italy and Germany of the 20th Century? And what ever happened to Barthes? I’ll come back to the monster in a bit…
February 21, 2008
Excellent q and stmts about Sennett’s!!! He develops a whole chapter on politics. I’ll try to convey more on him while responding to your latests comments. Let’s make a parenthesis here to let you know that part of my monstrous response haven’t appear. It’s important because that’s where I answer the question of the “hight”. I add following this the piece lost…
The monstrous is a product of this visual detachment, of this visual lift-off; is its debris. Before this departure, experience, like I said, is reduced mainly to pure contact, and this contact, obviously, succeeds on the level it combats any kind of rejection, any kind of repression. Freud, at that stage, imagines a hugely developed world of strong smells. The four-legged animal, for instance, keeps always a nose leveled to genitals and anuses, and this getting closer only intensifies the factual presence of things. At one point, however, some kind of felt anticipation, some kind of alarmed condition, provokes our raising ourselves up from the ground. Our erect posture brings about a huge switch of priorities. On one hand, our genitals get hidden in the inner leg, and, more importantly, are placed far from the nose. At that hight, also, the nose can only get unreliable stimulation because all data has already been mixed up by wind and turbulence in the air. On the other hand, the eye gains a panoramic, a perspective, a depth, it gains the distance necessary to allow the optical architecture to develop fully into an anticipatory apparatus, and to assure, ultimately, the rapid establishment of its insistence and domain. Far from any expression of passivity, I consider this situation more like the gaining of a worried gait, the development of a behavioral pattern based on being on constant alert, up, way high up, and with the eyes wide opened. This distance now cleans and sterilizes most of our perception. Moreover, it idealizes our experience because we’re placed away from things, detached, and objectively seeking without remedy that final and convincing demonstration. Far from the dirt of facts, the stage is finally set.
There’s now plenty room for fantasy.
Since I seem to have chopped off Ruben’s previous statements from February 20th (but note that the chopping was in fact caused by an html invocation), I, in turn, invoke the above. I am in a phase of attraction to Love Without Contact, a seemingly perverse and yet functional structure in which one can live and experience, all without the heavy baggage of bourgeois symbolism, materialism, and dictates. More on “Love” in the coming days and weeks. As Mr. Obama has many a times prophesied (god bless the man), “Let the love begin… .” (I trust the irony is well understood).
…can you tell me a bit about your interest in the “high,” the “high-heeled,” and its connection to the monstrous?
Let me say, that recently, and without mention, the notice of certain curated art exhibitions that still, and to this day, “totemize” not only artistic production and the artists but also their very own academic/intellectual discourses for the sake of facilitating and reproducing well-worn and archaic narratives and subjectivities. Why does this persist? What do you encounter in Barcelona?
Furthermore, I wonder if the aging of an artist is something that is considered, or should be considered, within the realm of artistic production. In some sense this ties back to the quotational in that the library or archive from which to draw from is not only widened, but deepened by the complexities of one’s level and ability to interpret and analyze. I fear I am being too generous in regard to many current contemporary artists.
Previously, you mentioned ideas of the quotational and the totemizing of artists by a culture. Can you explain this “totemizing” a bit further? I hate to draw binaries, but are we still trapped between the commericalized and romanticized notion/identity of the artist?