Excerpts from an upcoming book of letters of some highlights of my art world correspondence, titled Belles-Lettres:
Dear Dr. [REDACTED],
There is an ominous air of inanity that resists simple decipherment throughout the writings you have force-fed the artlings under your command this summer in the hallowed halls of Ufer Studios — that Guantanamo Bay of forbidden knowledge, speculation, clammy hands and bad art — and as one of them I applaud your efforts to digest the indigestable. In the first enhanced interrogation technique you employ, entitled “Art After Deskilling” we are made aware of many facets of the idea that the artist doesn’t have to be “skilled” technically anymore. However I don’t see the author ever broach the (seemingly obvious, possibly all-encompassing) idea that this is at least partially inspired by the rapid spread of literacy and the subsequent transformation of the artist into an ultra-specific philosopher (perhaps of a fragment of a moment,
a shadow of my shadow). For the artist who is not hyper-literate or does not have a hyper-literate associate to prattle on for them, there is a mutually catalysing suffering which is not easily appreciated by the hyper-literate artist, that new bourgeoisie that you and I belong to. I see our rapid expansion as the new Manifest Destiny of contemporary practice, perhaps our greatest work is not our work, not our writing about it… no we contribute to a New Intellectual Gentrification; formerly skilled but illiterate or semi-illiterate or semi-literate artists used to find refuge here with their “technically sweet” work and we are pushing them out of yet another area, coast to coast, Sea To Shining Sea! This Manifest Destiny is our invisible, subtractive, obstinate cosmology, and we will submit any number of disinformation campaigns and overwhelming dialogues to avoid discussing it, and to further it further. From wikipedia, the free encyclopedia™:
This variety of possible meanings was summed up by Ernest Lee Tuveson, who writes:
A vast complex of ideas, policies, and actions is comprehended under the phrase “Manifest Destiny”. They are not, as we should expect, all compatible, nor do they come from any one source.
Although far from exhaustive I appreciated many other points within the work especially to that Quillinanian concept of “art versus labor” being hammered in whenever possible – that glistening old chestnut I keep behind my ear which whispers its hoary locutions to me discursively at every turn, like a fire-proof forbidden idol refusing erasure deletion or truncation and expounding upon its own untruths infinitely in a hall of mirrors with nothing to reflect but themselves (in a moment of hysterical reverie I see your simulated drowning techniques (which include making us read Bourriaud and someone critiquing Bourriaud) as that Hall of Mirrors, possibly at Versailles, although just as possibly the reflections in the droplets of obscurantism all over my personage after this art-as-waterboarding session ends…Aye! it is endless). While formally consistent, I find your vision for the future worrisome. The victim itinerary for this “3 day dialogue” invokes mythopoetic comparisons, and history will judge you accordingly.
May God (and the grand jury) Have Mercy Upon Your Soul,
Started drinking early today, so here are my altered/heightened(?) state thoughts:
Wish I made that video. Awesome. Love the digital blurring of the brain – gotta keep things tasteful! Also, was that Jimmy Dale Gilmore sounding better produced than ever? Doubt it, but would love to hear him treated so well.
Fargosonini’s language is moving. In this missive in particular I find an undercurrent of generosity – the grandiose pomposity offers a distancing means to self-reflect for the reader. Ultimately I find it a kind text, that wishes the best for the reader – wishes the reader to be stripped of the strictures of self-delusion and contorting artifice.
Also, in my altered state I had a flash on the idea of redaction. Might Fargosonini wish to publish his redactions. Should his texts include evidence of the redactions. Who would be doing the redactions on the work of an auteur of the status of Fargosonini? A mash up of redactions?
Take all with a grain of salt – or better yet a heaping dose of hot sauce.
Dear Mr. Roth,
It brings me quite measurable joy to hear you are imbibing so early in the day. For what is a day, really? It can only be measured in the breaking down of non-volatile alcoholic compounds in the liver. Every man has his own speed, and many are quick to urinate. Oh! But you hold your second tongue well, and how you smote the grey seas with your oar, encircling the isle of the Lotus Eaters (my bored critique group) with abandon! Your idea on redactions engenders deep curiosity, and I’ve taken it to <3. I must however point out, that post was by A. and emailed to you by F., they both sharing a middle initial of M., perhaps a reference to that masterwork of noir by Fritz Lang; possibly a coincidental conjoining of our lowly program. The generosity, is well, an obvious reference. I wish you luck in your reckless abandon in those grey seas on this grey day, perhaps I shall join you for an imbibation one evening, over some steaming piece of cinema like the one Howard Hughes died a thousands of deaths to in his final years in unclipped hibernation, “Ice Station Zebra”.
Ha Ha Ha! “Unclipped hibernation” – hilarious. I guess I need Venn Diagram for A., F, and M.
Greetings Mark. Would you be interested in lending your vocal talents once again to a non-minor masterpiece I have in the works? I have followed that mongrel of arte, A., to points south – Texas, in fact – and I will be filming “the shah of central texas” as he performs for the unwilling audience, that swelling monolith; the street crowds of South by Southwest Film Festival. Narration will be necessary.
It would be a honor to lend my feeble skills in service to the furtherance of your vision.
Dear Merete Rostad,
The writings you have passed on have only amplified the duplicity of the term “curator” for me, which gives me a sick pleasure that I see as an intellectual disease of the hyper-literate art world fetishist (as is my wont). The Curator as radical theorist is a guise that seemingly enjoins itself in perpetuity in contemporary practice (which is to say, not in perpetuity, but in the present-present and as if gazing forever ahead, but probably not for long). Capitalizing on this trend that seems too opaque and multifaceted to be mocked is a large part of my work in the near future-future. There is an urge in contemporary practice that does not immediately deny the obvious because it is too obvious, which brings to mind the Zoroastrian concept of “druj”, or “xenophobia aimed inward.” The curator as a masked figure, cloaked in obscure language and always receding, seems to be thematic throughout the works, and yet never mentioned. I look forward to discussing these brilliantly crafted unconditional lies with you in your workshop.
I have found many variants of your name’s spelling through googling you for the purposes of writing this letter. Perhaps this is a part of your own personal mulitfarious “skin”. I cannot decide if it is a defense mechanism or a potent offense, for surely it is not as benign a detail as it first may seem. Perhaps it is a trojan horse. In any case I have let you in. I enjoyed your works of “secondary literature” and ancient, Euro-vulgarized skin-pornography-as-text. I must admit I await your much heralded “moments of deep nakedness” with baited breath [shifts in chair]. I sense the reading diary guidelines, which state:
Briefly explain your understanding of the text(s), what problems they address, which questions they answer (and how) and which ones are left open.
are a bit misleading, for your texts do not answer laid out questions directly, instead they often imply the questions they are answering with their own speculation, a series of self-rectifying historical didacticisms based around the concept of “skin”. I feel they at once answered nothing other than subtly posited sub-textual assumptions and yet answered everything with rational chunks of historical errata and legitimizing skin-like ephemera. The texts read as a passionate affirmation of your own wide ranging speculative discourse, and I await the furtherance of your vision and its acutely original philosophical biopolitics (“Skin”).