Aeneas Wilder: Writings WeAreTheArtists No12. Update: San Francisco
Dear Jim, it was a great surprise to bump into you at the Van Abbemuseum, in Eindhoven. It is so rare for us to meet these days. I would hope that your analysis of cultural trends are correct. Fascinating as it is, the gravitation towards extreme expression within art, as epitomised early on by Richard Kern's Sado-masochistic film archive (queue grainy image of someone being held open and fist fucked, circa 1970) leads to an end game already mapped out, albeit in an immature way, by Jack -Ass, and the more challenging Welsh spin off, Dirty Sanchez. I am pleased to know that your expertise is being utilised by Charles and that the cultural agenda of the Netherlands will benefit from the wealth of skills and knowledge that you have accumulated.
I am surprised that we even managed to bump into each other, as my schedule this past summer set me on a course far and way from Europe's art triptych of Venice, Kassel and Munster. I missed the lot as I worked in Rotterdam, Tokyo and San Francisco. The work made for that last show will develop in an unexpected way, assuming the committee decide that my work holds the key to their success. The Exploratorium have been charged with finding a creative solution to a pressing problem in the USA, namely dragging themselves out of an engineering meltdown. The physical infrastructure of the country needs to be upgraded and renewed. At the moment, too few want to make a career in the field of civil engineering, much the same as in the plumbing world. The key is to prepare (children, principally girls) for the coming years in a practical, long term, way. Until then the engineering sector - amongst others - will continue to dwindle, as the role models of Britney and Madonna send yet another generation of young women spinning off into the triviality that now dominates global cultural production. For those lucky/wealthy enough to gain a university degree, the path to being a winner means that you head for Wall Street, regardless of your degree. Stuff bridges. So, if my system is adopted then the re-education of pre\teens will begin. Perhaps. What I discovered staying in San Francisco was that the mere promise of getting rich is highly addictive. I was there for less that a week and I had already hit on the money making venture of sprinkling scraps of polystyrene with some colourful glitter and then selling them as cultural lucky charms. Armed with a business degree and a pot of glue, you could probably be a millionaire. The trick however is the catchy product name.
It is a great shame that you missed the opportunity to meet the grand old duke Paul Panhuysen while you were in Eindhoven. By the time the cultural pendulum swings back towards formalism, I fear that he will have gone to the great FRAC collection in the sky. Although never a member of Fluxus, his work counterpoints that now co-opted art movement. The fact that both Paul and George Maciunas worked parallel to each other shows how thin the membrane between the known and the not so known actually is. Two things you should know about Paul. He still owns an original Gerrit Reitveld Red Blue chair, which he trimmed slightly, many years ago, to improve the proportions. Paul also expelled Rudi Fuchs from his studio, after Rudi suggested that Paul take on board Rudi's amendments when developing new work. This was during Rudi's appointment to the upcoming Documenta 7. As the studio door closed, Rudi's last words were" You will regret this Paul".
Unbelievably the solo show in my beloved homeland has been shelved. An Tuireann Art Centre on Skye has been shut down and all staff have been sacked by the Board of Directors in a move that has yet to be fully explained. The fact that the Art Centre's curator, Steven McKenzie, will have to return the Henry Moore Foundation grant given to fund my project pales into insignificance, when I think about a father of two trying to find another curatorial post amongst the Hebridean islands of Scotland's west coast.
Still, for me it is not all bad news. After 14 years of waiting and hoping, I have finally made it into the hallowed realms of the glossy art magazine world. Yes it is true. A three page spread featuring an extensive interview and several colour images. The journalist even called me on her mobile, Los Angeles to Rotterdam, so that she could get all the facts just right. Artforum, Flash Art, I hear you ask? No, the magazine in question was Woodworkers Monthly, California's #1 arts and crafts magazine. Although the main feature of the July edition did focus predominantly on the Annual Woodworkers Tool Convention and the "crazy prices to be had down at Bob's wood shed this summer", surely it is only a matter of time before the other glossies beat a path to my door.
Alas, I must sign off for now. My train is pulling into Gare du Nord and I must take time for the adjustment necessary when leaving the Netherlands and arriving in Paris. The Dutch are so pleasant and relaxed, but I have been in Rotterdam too long. I am now keen to embrace the total contempt that the Parisian service sector lavishes so democratically on all its visitors A Bientot. With best wishes to Jason and yourself, Aeneas.
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