Saturday, April 14, 2007

Art Pranks

Ever since Duchamp made a comeback/got recycled in the 50's seems like everyone wants to be an artist prankster. You don't got to paint well, you don't have to sit in a studio all day, you just got to be a good performer and dedicated to your schtick. I always find them funny and I'm always interested, maybe because I find them more accessible but still thought provoking. like, while I may not understand the implications of the color wheel, I understand Sean Landers' 18 minute rant about himself and his sublime talent, like, he's being ironic, dude. HA! you can see similar stuff from Martin Creed, and the granddaddy of contemporary pranksters, Maurizio Cattelan, whom I love the most because he's the best at it (see: Pope gets hit by meteorite). There's also usually at least one (white male) artist prankster in every MFA program. I will probably fill that slot when I go to school next fall. Yipee!

I actually went to see martin creed when he played with his band owada on the lower east side recently. It was alright, but I haven't really thought about it so much, even though I reportedly love artist pranksters. a lot of it was funny and showed how experiencing conceptual art can be emotional, entertaining, and sensual and not just dry and intellectual. like some of the songs' lyrics were sort of conceptual/philosophical, but also funny and the music rocked real simple good. So you got the brain and the body involved. sort of like Built To Spill, only with less rawk. some of it also played with expectations of rock concerts, like, instead of doing the usual "hello cleveland!!!" martin creed stood alone in the spotlight and was very thoughtful and candid in his remarks. there was also the deconstruction of the "stage" (lights & fog going on and off randomly, the stage hands playing a prominent part in the show) but even that was pretty engaging. So, ok. in the words of john cage, I guess "I have nothing to say and I am saying it." The best part was going to the after-party and watching Maurizio Cattelan and Martin Creed chat it up. I imagine they talked about how fucking hilarious they both are.

recently I also read this great biography on the original prankster Duchamp called The Bachelor Stripped Bare. It did a great job of telling Duchamp's story clearly and concisely, because while there's tons of literature on Duchamp, a lot of it is nonsense (I'm looking at you Arturo Schwarz). The book is full of biographical details that are often obscured, like Duchamp being a lonely dude who endlessly tried to create controversy and scrape a little money together. Like when I read Cabanne's Dialouges with Duchamp I was inspired by a Duchamp that made iconoclastic, innovative work and happily floated through life. Apparently it was much more complicated and sad than that. Like, he was in love with his sister. Yuk yuk yuck. But the book isn't all revelations. I think some of the discussions of the work are a little superficial and the author seems a little too eager to dismiss the art of the past 40 years. I did like the ending, though, which just kind of left us with the bizarre image of the Etant Donnes, Duchamp's secret final work. I find this work to still be troubling in its suggestion of sexual violence against women. Ha ha?

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