I have always felt like an outsider. A willingness to get weird and be honest about stuff is what I have always valued and continue to value. That and a healthy capacity for fantasy, which is a veil but a very beautiful and important veil and also a mirror and a window.
I heard a quote today, from someone who could not attribute the source, that goes “women are, men become.” That’s just another way of saying female = nature, male = culture, a stereotype we rolled our eyes at back in college, right? It could easily go the other way: men are, women dress up, I am thinking of (macho) modern art’s suspicion of ornament… But for this discussion I like how the first quote points out the willfulness of masculinity– the mannerism, costume, affectation, rehearsal, right of passage, the heavy lifting, the cutting away (like the image Thomas sent earlier)– a striving for some abstraction– one obviously that has quite a bit of power and bite to it.
As this idea evolved in the paintings, nature vs. the man-made, I began to paint the competing parts in different ways. It seems like a simple idea: I painted the ‘natural’ elements with a thick, textured, more tactile paint quality, and the man-made elements with a harder-edged, slicker, and glossier surface in an attempt to mimic the machine-made.
For me, it has been amazing working closely with a group of students here who have never really made art that is political. I was initially not sure whether they could feel real ownership over the project and connect with the text that they were working with. Midway through the project, I found that they were articulating what we were doing better than I could, and discovering nuances in the text that I had not.
My interest in Vertov isn’t just a matter of filling in gaps in existing research, of course. Working on Vertov enabled me to discuss four things that have long interested me: experimental and non-fiction film, the fate of socialism in the 20th century, Russia, and the idea of radical (left-wing) art as such. Vertov plunges you into all these themes simultaneously, which makes him both exciting and hard to write about.
Just to survive, we are compelled to adopt various attitudes toward this fissure between bankrupt promises and the actuality on offer. Some take a naïve romantic stance toward education for its own sake, telling themselves they expect nothing further. Some proceed with iron cynicism and scorn, racing through the ludicrous charade toward the last wad of cash in the airless vault of the future. And some remain committed to the antique faith that their ascendingly hard labor will surely be rewarded some day if they just act as one who believes, just show up, take on more degrees and more debt, work harder.
Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves for a moment what sort of public is Kluge’s Ideological Antiquities assembling? What spirits are being exorcised in our voices now, demonstrating knowledge or speculating on this work now unfolding for the first time with English language subtitles in New York?
I chose to make an editioned album for two reasons. One, the blog is a reflection of my experience online and off, so I thought it was important for my own production to realize that reality literally. Also, I wanted art to occur not just at the beginning (with the artists) and end (with the musicians), but in the production stage as well, which is why I used a producer who came up with a track order and cut the sounds into usable samples.