Monday, July 24, 2017

A Revival-of-Crafts Manifesto (in progress)

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry, Detroit Institute of Arts, 1933

Painting, sculpture or performance art are no better than bookbinding, stucco ornament, hand hammering, dry set masonry, or violin making.- Anonymous exploited craftsperson 


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Contemporary art as the church of Mammon

On Contemporary art 

Static, eroded self-presence in the now, looking yonder to its past, Contemporary art has no future.

Contemporary art builds its reputation on hubris financed by artblicity.

From artblicity comes impunity to distort: from the impunity to distort, comes the impunity to dismantle truth: from the impunity to dismantle truth comes the impunity to brainwash. Contemporary art is a form of brainwashing.

Contemporary art expresses pseudodesires.

Contemporary art is a state of aesthetic fetishismThe difference between the represented 14-foot tiger shark in Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death In the Mind of Someone Living and a Carcharodon Carcharias majestically swimming in the subtropical Florida Straits is that the latter is not inside a vitrine filled with formaldehyde inside a white box.

Wake up! Contemporary art is a form of cultural hypnosis.

Contemporary art is a cheap mode of efficacy based on trendiness.

Contemporary art is redundant. Make it a goal to reinvent the art wheel.

The do's and don'ts

Stop cannibalizing art. Be original.

Don't make your art popular. Don't please everyone. 

Craft is the slow food of art. Bring craft back into your art. 

Don't explain your art. Good art doesn't need explaining.

Don't be sloppy. Whatever art you do, learn it thoroughly. 

Don't be a Mammon-sucker! If you hire someone do to art work for you, give them credit in your work.

Don't do art by looking at art magazines. Imitation is a form of limitation.

Seek effect and affect. Appropriation is cheap.

Avoid Photoshop. Bring back your drawing skills!

Art doesn't comment. Stop making art to make comments about comments.

Don't cheat. Achieving style is a slow process. 

Don't delegate any art/skill that you can master yourself.

Art making is community. Build community!

The hell with the past. Build futurity!

Stop mimicking Postmodern mimicking.

Avoid art fair art (better, go to Vegas).

Good art is not political. It is political because it's good.

Don't cheat. Learn your craft from scratch. No shortcuts! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Walter Crane's dictionary (in progress)


At first sight Walter Crane (1845-1915) would not seem a figure at the level of a Ruskin or a Morris. The received information is that Crane was indeed the most prolific children's book designer of his generation; that he was a disciple of Morris and contributor to Morris’s Kelmscott Press. But Crane was active force behind the development of the Arts and Crafts movement. He figures as spokesman of the The Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, which was started in London in 1888. And yet, it is after the death of Morris in 1896 that Crane's voice emerges with a unique self confidence that makes him a valuable source of ideas behind the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Click here for our Walter Crane dictionary (in progress).  

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

William Morris' dictionary (in progress)

William Morris, 1883

This brief William Morris curated dictionary (in progress) and Ruskin's dictionary, below are spurred by this discussion.

Much of contemporary art's current crisis can be traced back to a specific moment during the fin de siecle Arts and Crafts revolution. Pre-avantgarde Nineteenth Century illumines recent ideological friction in the contemporary art world, between what we've called "not making," the "art assembly line," art "hypnosis," "the signature," the problem of "proper naming" in art, etc. It makes sense to analyze these contemporary issues from the contributions of the Arts and Crafts Movement, particularly John Ruskin, and more predominantly, by William Morris.

John Ruskin's dictionary (in progress)

John Ruskin, 1863

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Robert Chambers' Iron Oar closes tonight at Emerson Dorsch

Robert Chambers, Trackcendence, 2017, steel I- beams, BBs and reclaimed steel buoy (ball) 5 x 5 x 5 feet

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Don't miss the the closing of Robert Chambers' Iron Oar, tonight, at Emerson Dorsch Gallery.

Iron Oar is a playground connoting the Modern, craft, and a reverence to Homo ludens. One can appreciate Chamber's vatic ability to fill a big white box with the ponderous without pretense. The show invites interaction, wonderment and youthful puzzlement.

There are:

1- "Trackcendence," a 5x5x5 feet ball (a repurposed steel buoy), rolling on a sectional track of steel I-beams, occupies half the gallery space.
2- "Spinner, " a reddish 5 foot diameter disc on the floor.
3- "Couplings," two 28x28x28 inches green-painted forged drops.
4- "Lever," a forged stainless steel rod standing on its own.
5- "Ryoanji Sky Mural," a seven-sheet polished aluminum mural, on the gallery wall.

Robert Chambers, Spinner, 2017, cast iron and steel 5 feet diameter x 11 inches tall

First, the pieces speak of their historic raw material, the uneasy intersection of craftspersonship and the machine. This is the age of the steel industry, the blast furnace, Fordism, trade Unions, The New Deal, progress, the future. Thus, the Modern epoch.

Robert Chambers, Couplings, 2017, two drop forge parts, paint, 28 x 28 x 28 inches

On the other hand, Iron Oar exemplifies what one could call "Chambersian."

Here is the craftsman, dada prankster, the object/puzzle engineer fitting the outrĂª in the ordinary, the ponderous in the fragile, the retro in the hereafter, the ingenious in the facile, or better, the child in the grownup. The night of the opening children were static playing with the imposing two tons, 5-feet diameter ball (let's advance that the best proof for good art is a child's reaction to it). "Trackcendence" reminded this repentant adult of a benevolent, awkward giant, joltily riding its metallic spherical frame on this abstrusely narrow track in the shape of a polyhedron— for fear of harming us Lilliputians.

Chamber's objects typically exhibit a to-and-fro between the "found" and the "made" (although Chambers is too much of an engineer to ever leave things exactly as they are). These sculptures proudly evince the making: first, there's the finding. Then comes the flanging, the swiveling and the welding. Then there is the painting, the hot blackening & the polishing.

Rough enough and furbished enough, Iron Oar follows John Ruskins' craftily advice to let the art object speak of the hand that makes it.

Emerson Dorsch Gallery,
5900 NW 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33127
(305) 576-1278 info@emersondorsch.com

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hegel & the logic of the "real" Barbie

Nyadak, the black Barbie

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This news from Nyadak Thot, the stunning black Barbie from Sudan made me think of Valerie Lukyanova, the white Barbie from Ukraine and this m.bourbaki post from 2012, which applies to both Nyadak and Valerie. Here it goes:
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Do you know Valerie Lukyanova, the "real" Barbie?

Being the "real," she is more than her role model, the famed Barbie Doll:

the Barbie Doll

In what sense is the "real" more than the doll? It's human!

Valerie's impressive transitioning shows she has achieved her doll/ideal in the flesh. She possesses a more than, leaving dollness behind. But wait, isn't this more than not, as well, automatically, a less than?*

The "real" Barbie is sort of a truer version, but being @ this fullness, it immediately enters a perplexing state of vacancy. From now on, nothing can be realer than it.** Undeniably, with this new in-between category Valerie attains what the doll could only aspire to, but the "real" also signals its own lack.

G. F. Hegel has a telling paragraph in his Logic, under the title "Being determinate": 
... in becoming, the being which is one with nothing, and the nothing which is one with being, are only vanishing factors; they are and are not. Thus by its inherent contradiction becoming collapses into the unity in which the two elements are absorbed. This result is accordingly being determinate (being there and so). (p. 133)
This is no galimatias: the being of "real" is determinate. "Being there and so" is Valerie, the "real" Barbie. She finally filled with flesh-and-bones what used to be a mere doll/ideal (caveat: as old Heraclitus suggests things are never static).

Meanwhile, Valerie is petrified in her own determinate "real" category. She's more than automatically stopped in her tracks.

She won't be able to overcome another more than.

Valerie, the white Barbie

The question persists: Now that Valerie embodies the "real," what would a "realer" Barbie be? 

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*If the human needs dollness to become "real," being human is far from the measure -as it were (a pretty girl is called "a doll"). Meanwhile the doll forever persists in its dollness. ** A "superreal" would not solve the paradox, it would actually augment it: to a "superreal," one merely adds a higher order, "super(superreal)" and so on.