Addicted to Highs and Lows
A writer (theorist) or a curator is a kind of artist. They know (unconsciously) what they are looking for. They are drawn to things, and need only to take what they have seen and contextualize it in their own way, use it their own way to make sense and begin to articulate their own feelings. Thus two readers, after finishing the same book, have two separate ideas of the book. And this is the best thing: these same two readers could meet again in ten years and reread the same book and have two new ideas. Marriage is the desire to have a mirror to gauge oneself everyday: "what did you think of that?" you could say to your spouse. Or often you don't even need to say anything. This is why art is so important, something to look at and use to recognize and construct how we are feeling. This is why art needs to be so free, and this is why the artist that writes has become out of date. It is always changing: the 50s painters distrusted Motherwell because he had gone to school. The minimalists lauded Smithson because he wrote such good jokes. These days the primacy-of-writing mentality still exists (but without the good jokes). This has come to represent our avant-garde: a press release. But even Proust was laughed at as a writer of soap-operas. We work from our past, and history sorts it all out. Maybe this is the market, which really just means "how do we cover up their insecurity?" so of course a witty text (press release) is a good idea, or an opaque one for the obvious reason (they are a genius exclamation point exclamation point exclamation point).
There is a good joke that a cop finds a drunk stumbling around in front of a lamp post. The cop says to the drunk, "what are you doing?" The drunk says, "I lost my keys in the alley and am trying to find them." The cop says, "If you lost them in the alley why are looking out here by the lamppost?" To which the drunk replies, "the light is better out here."
There is a sort of making that is responding to life and there is a sort of making that becomes a means of not getting at true feelings, a distraction, conscious or otherwise, that often comes from fear. The intellect often serves this purpose as does a reliance on it to legitimize or rationalize our actions and our desires rather than acknowledge them for what they are. It is always easier to stay in the light, to not stare into the abyss*, but where is this getting us?
I guess what I am saying is that it is into this abyss that I find these artists staring. The work varies in aesthetic or social connection, but that is the point too. There isn't a "look" to an internal conflict. We still see minimal, we still see abstract, we still see conceptual, and we hold these aesthetics to some structure of meaning or history, but isn't the main precept of our day that the ways in which we get information is just as important as that information? What is important here is that the connecting tissue isn't a signifier or formal quality or relation to cultural production, but rather the similar, less delineated strain of, say, intention or a self contextual-framing; or an emotional kinship in an approach to working regardless of whatever the eventual object is.
- Richard Aldrich