[sic] That’s what everyday is like


From IT HURTS: New York Art, from Warhol to now, by Matthew Collings

New York art, from Warhol to nowChapter: Need for discipline, Essay: The culture of art

You can’t just say anything you like. You have to join in the official discourse. There are discourses for everything. But with art the discourse is incredibly tortured and unreal, and you have to get to know it over many years. At first you can’t believe the phoneyness and unreality. It’s like a bad film, set in the art world. It’s so extreme you feel sure everyone is joking, and that suddenly they’re going to admit it. (For mad people, of course, that’s what everyday is like.) But they never do, and actually their laughter at the occasional joke you might make about the discourse and the need to maintain it more or less 100 percent at all times, however absurd it gets — just to give your aching mind some relief — is always uneasy, and you learn not to make them after a while. You go along with it even though there’s a permanent uneasy feeling and you know you’re playing a role.

Innovations in art often seem to be about calling the bluff of the discourse. The new often feels satirical almost. The discourse reels, then adapts. The new often feels solemn.

The best barometer of the grotesqueness of the changes in discourse is the collectors. Because there’s something about their nature that makes the buckling and straining of the changes the discourse is going through show more clearly. They’re like a parallel universe to actual art, but one where everything is a little out of joint. In art, the moves make sense, the system makes sense. But when collectors say how moved they are by the new moves, it all becomes absurd. They go from being deeply moved to finding stripes beneath contempt and being deeply moved by video instead.

…Everyone knows a Serra fell on someone once and killed them in the 70s. And in the 80s another one fell on someone else and they were badly injured. It adds to the seriousness. Obviously if a Richard Prince psychiatrist joke on a piece of paper fell on you, it wouldn’t make any difference.

…It was reality again and I was at a party in a loft. There were a lot of mustaches, white T-shirts, work boots and overalls. Todd Haynes was in charge of the music. It was all Glam Rock selections because he was currently editing The Velvet Goldmine, his 70s Glam Rock film. Suzi Quatro came on. Devil Gate Drive. Ha ha, some lesbians were saying. This is the music we liked when we were twelve!


The great critic David Sylvester is an admirere of the new Serras, and I was recently on a television discussion programme with him in London when he attempted to eulogize them. But unfortunately as he was gathering steam the artist Tracy Emin, who was also on the discussion panel, which was being transmitted live to give a sense of breathlessness to the ocassion, stole his thunder by announcing in a frankly drunken way that she was going home now to phone her mum.

bye everybody, she slurred, terrifyingly, for a live TV station. And then she staggered out of thr lighted space of discourse and into the chaotic darkness. I’ve had a really brilliant night out — fuckin’ excellent! she called from the void of non-discourse, to the dozen or so critics in their chairs, and to the half-million or so TV viewers. This is a parable of how you can never control the discourse.

Forgot about arrest

I forgot to ask Stella about the stable of racehorses he runs and and what it’s like being a millionaire, and about when he had a phase of buying Ferreris and other fast expensive cars and speeding in them and the time he was arrested for that.

There goes the neighborhood

Jeffrey Deitch made so much money he used to live in Trump Tower. Before that he lived at The Gramercy Park Hotel. But then he had to move because there was an old woman who lived there too, on the same corridor, who was dying. And she used to leave her door open and he would see her naked on her bed on his way to his room for the evening.


… Is Yoko a good artist? No one can tell. She’s too legendary. She was one of the Fluxus artists. They made ephemeral art and films and weird music.

2 Responses to “[sic] That’s what everyday is like”

  1. Gnome de Pluehm Says:

    Stravinsky said that the purpose of music is to fill up time. That is probably true of all art. Fill up time with something or go mad [or die].

    I wonder if he played the hum drum; he wrote nothing for it.

    Artists try to invent other ways that things m-i-g-h-t be; they chew the could; those that dislike art eschew the could.

    Collectors and other critics try to engineer the arts. Their work is art fiction.

  2. I saw a readymade by Yoko at the Boston ICA in 2007. It was a live feed of the sky above the museum displayed on a flat screen monitor in the gallery. It was cool when a bird flew by. Made me feel both invisible and totally exposed for a moment. Like the walls and roof around and above me were incidental. It was a nice idea — it gets really hard to identify a “great artist” — the closer you look at a work of art the more paradoxical the experience — art becomes more brilliant and complex, and at the same time more simple and immediate.

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