Saturday, November 29, 2008

let the arguments begin, one

Robert Cheatham and I may be fated to produce shows in which the critics complain that the art tells a different story from the one we have set out as curators to tell. And of course, we can complain rightly that the critics have missed the point.

I am sure that I have fundamentally misread some of the artists in “Crop Circles, Cosmograms, Psychogeographies” because I don’t like their art. I have misread others because I am trying to force them into a model that they are not presenting, and neither is Cheatham.

I am probably more like a disappointed lover who arrives with expectations and comes away disgruntled because the reality doesn’t live up to the constructions of the imagination based on past models. But of course the past models are (1) in the past and (2) constructed for purposes that we may misconstrue through a haze of exoticism. They may have looked rather workaday and drab to their contemporaries, whereas we see their underlying geometries and a loveliness that is lovely when compared with the conventions of the present day, not those of their own day.

So I feel like an elderly curmudgeon, but so be it. I feel the show doesn’t tell me what I wanted to know. It is useful to combine people who are making purely ironic comments, people who are creating a belief without belief, beyond belief (to quote Wallace Stevens’ familiar lines), and people who are creating imaginary structures as a tool of analytical investigation.

But then we have to figure out the relationships on the one hand, and the adequacy of the effort on the other. And Cheatham certainly gives it his best shot.

I probably ought to go into his essay line by line and try to engage in a dialogue. But I can’t.

The posts that appear are substantially the same as when I wrote them, save for a couple of minor surgeries. I think I may have left yet another post in draft form and will resurrect it appropriately.

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