Pussyfooting a Phantom Critique Regarding the Superstition of Use Dispelled by the Detritus of Art


The Echo-Chamber Pot of Art

Collaborative projects are the death of characteristic expressions. They are in demand when a dearth of unique ideas becomes an opportunity to farm standard fixes that feed the systems of illusion. Agenda driven projects are problematic in terms of the tacit agreement to serve universal ends. If there were such ends that exist to fit everyone. Providing a formula aesthetic that would serve the social programming of catch bureaucracies is suspicious, despite its costume as critique or political dress that desires to parade its social self-consciousness. They all fall short of transcendence and drop merely in the maw of the industry churning instant cultural bytes.


Hot Wheels


Something close to a revolutionary expression would even be more questionable, today, especially when a destabilizing action such as protest can be insouciantly defanged under the rubric of art. Art’s role as service provider is no more than to amuse, now, its truth content transmuted into simulacra guilt-free of any struggle that will get the artist’s hands dirty. Presenting art that presumably serves no end, if there were ever such a case, without falling into the spectacle of abstraction as valueless process operating within the vacuum of its own understanding, but with the provision to deconstruct freely which self-awareness can no more than provide, was the unconscious desire driving the composition of the works presented in the form agreed to be in this case as art, and not as waste product.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

The producers behind the show are magnanimously ambivalent in executing civic-oriented designs that camouflage blind spots in illumination exchanged brilliantly as truth operations within the cultural complex; and so wary of snuffing out singularities, and opting instead a disjunctive synthesis that allow distinctions to appear everywhere as to even the grand scheme. Not everyone agrees of course, which is surely where the problem is. Especially in art, when it may take a questionable form. Which means another way that the questioning could be a form of art.


6 Days of the Dematerialization of Art: Using Non-linear Reasoning For Making A Great Show

Let us avoid returning to art as readymade in the custom of the urinal, where appropriation and nomenclature is but hard work for the self-conscious artist. But apparently, the burden to relieve oneself of art can be dumped, metaphorically, on such things as a found toilet that the artists had altered for the show. This arrangement was visible within the confines of a temporary enclosure built for the purpose of privacy, which also allows quiet contemplation of art far from the cacophony of the outside, and replicates the experience for the viewer as being comfortably nestled inside a restroom. With its haphazard construction tagged allover with provisional markings and postings, this structure gives the impression of a site under construction, echoing the overwhelming feeling of the show’s instability and uncertainty, of art made surely with skepticism.


Context, the battle cry of criticism, is applied awkwardly here for art to reflect upon itself, with it returning to being art as we know it – through mimicry, but of itself, and having full knowledge of what it is, as to become dialectical critique. I know that you know that I know and so you know. Hence, for easy reference, images come from stock drawn from the banks of its practitioners, which are then laid bare, unadorned (not painting, but drawing), floating spectral signs radiant with loss. For a practice that is not at the forefront of art production today, hand made image processing that doubles as mute surrogates of the senses still continues to assault you like imbeciles to fascist propaganda. Never mind the substance, when it comes to making impressions looks still matter. As they are taken from customized book of codes, deployed through planning rather than impulse, the images had thus avoided the romanticized fringe expression conventional with street-styled art, which, having abandoned its gall, forfeits the opportunity to make a point by way of an offensive remark. Such a small reward in exchange for escaping the design aesthetic that is idiosyncratic of most collaborative ventures.


Concurrently, to have the images projected on the wall, copied, and nearly untransformed, speaks hardly of a collaborative effort and more about the distinctive character of each member’s aesthetic voice, were it not for the inside jokes and horsing around shared within the group that turns it into a unified stab. Mutations in form, as collaboration seeks, normally occur when there is distress in the composition of the original state.

The use of transcribers to facilitate the mutability of form poses the problem of authenticity, of whose work does it belong to in the end, as transcribers were given free reign to alter the composition of the source imagery, and as far as having the option to leave the work undone. Though a dramatic figural change was inconspicuous, a culture of mistranslation was still inescapable in the composition of this work, thereby lending instability and indetermination of the work’s identity. As in the mysterious appearance in the morning after the final install, when a set of colored balloons surprisingly appeared as addendum to the work without the artists’ and curator’s prior knowledge and approval.

Another is the presentation of ethnic performers during the opening, which seemed anachronistic to the show’s overall disapproval of signs bound to particular meanings. This recoding consequently added to the surreality of the show as an ironic detachment from things real. For that reason, what kinds of desire played behind the construction of the work’s identity? Since having set no limits to the work’s definition, it was almost impossible to give an apt program for what the thing should be. At best, the aesthetic negativity is made certain by the show’s centerpiece, which is a hand made sculpture of a dumpster upturned to disembowel its contents of art. Spilling towards the center of the space, the aesthetic refuse not so much make a statement about the condition of art today; rather, it pictures its absence, or the impasse of defining art in restrictive ways. In this manner, it surely won’t be a novel take on the obsolescence of art after having witnessed already too many debris fields that form the anti-aesthetic.

But in the end, a shock operation like this is known to be liberating, even if such an awakening of sorts will soon fade as rational thought demands for its reconstruction, like riffraff from the imaginary collected and disposed by the sanitation system for profitable use.


About the author

Arvin Flores is an artist who conflates language with abstraction, thinking that the confusion with meaning between sign and signature would lead into real painting. He lives and works in Oakland, California.


Arvin Flores