Aeneas Wilder: Writings WeAreTheArtists No 2. Update: Koriyama
Polly wants a cracker.
Greetings from Koriyama, a non-descript town with few redeeming features. This is where Naoko has been posted for the next few months so I will be putting in an appearance here now and again.
The other day I wandered though a department store here and encountered a shop selling, amongst other things, t-shirts emblazoned with Keith Haring doodles (as well as with Liechtenstein and Basquiat motifs). Who knows where our art will end up? The shop also had quite a selection of books. As my choice of reading matter is limited to English, I ended up reading excerpts from the journals of Kurt Cobain. My appreciation of Nirvana never really went beyond the fantastic cover for their 'Nevermind' album. However I have always seen parallels between the music industry and the art world, and reading Mr Cobain's journal extracts certainly made me think what conformist we artists probably all are. There are, I suppose, a few notable exceptions- Antonio Muntadas perhaps.
For my part, I send tapes and images to various peoples. In many cases I receive no reply, the subtlest form of rejection. Jim, with your psychology degree, you may be able to tell me what 'type' of person ignores the existence of another human being. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? I never have the guts to include in my letters words like " just tell me to fuck off and I can stop wasting money sending you (more) tapes". And of course the institutions/dignitaries never reply saying " just fuck off and stop wasting your money and our time. We don't want any (more) tapes". I suppose that this is the legacy of interpersonal management skills, or are we all observing Article 29 of the Declaration of Human Rights, finally? Nevertheless in spite of the reception back in the UK, the popularity of my work, here in Japan, continues unabated. It seems that acceptance by the art world is a matter of ideology.
I remember telling a good friend one day, as we sat in the café area of the Basel art fair - "if someone dropped an atomic bomb on Basel right now it would eradicate 90% of the worlds art marketeers in one fell swoop and increase the value of the worlds remaining art by about the same percentage". This thought had occurred to me while I destroyed a large installation entitled 'Architecture'. Pre dating September 11 th on this occasion saved my work from accusations of unoriginality at least.
I flicked through another book called "100 years of Idiocy". In this book there are many horrifying images including one of a gigantic gridded expanse of muddy fields, full of steers and heifers . The photo had been taken from a helicopter allowing the landscape and cattle to drift off almost to infinity- sounds familiar perhaps? The photographers name was James A. Sugar. The image was taken in 1989. It seems that acceptance by the art world is a matter of timing.
Of course just because Andreas Gursky studied photography at Dusseldorf does not mean he should know about Mr Sugar's work. I myself did not know about Mr Gursky until well after I had begun my Fat People USA series of photographs, capturing a wonderful image of two ladies as the waddled down the peanut butter isle of a supermarket, with half price tags sticking out from the shelves every metre or so along the way. However in this respect both images of the cattle fields are almost identical.
I once took a train of thought to its logical conclusion and discovered that the ultimate art statement would be to shoot yourself through the head at your own exhibition. Shooting has of course been partially done before, many years back by Chris Burden, a colleague having shot him through the arm as a performance. Upon discovering this fact I thought I had met my match, but as it says in the Beatles song, "Doc' it was only a scratch". Of course no artist would want to kill themselves in a gallery - that would be career suicide and we all want a career now, don't we? Contrary to what art students may say, there are no corpses receiving a professor's salary in the art departments of the world's academic institutions!
Still some people outside the art world do shoot themselves through the head.
With best wishes for you and Jason, a package of goodies is on its way. aeneas.P.S. Doesn't Douglas Gordon look like Kurt Cobain when you see him wearing a blond wig?
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