Venice Biennale 2013

Kill All Artists

This really has been a tough year or so, the old money or the gun question…but having profited from the hallucinations of my cultural capitalist overlords, I can come back to this more or less intact…and let’s talk about those contemporary art goons later…

The Venice Biennale, hmm, well it pretty much looked like every other biennale I’ve seen since 1997, but I was vaguely interested because of the Jung, the utopian and the outsider. But as usual what I really enjoyed was Venice itself and kind of hanging out there, wandering in and out of art stuff in a rather mindless way. Whilst there were a few good things, the graffiti done by other visitors was the most entertaining and further to that I enjoyed watching people, who I presume are artists of one kind or another, undertaking personal projects whilst they were there. For example, a girl who was doing some time lapse photography of herself near the billionaire super yachts with their dedicated exclusion zones etc (very current of course), or some middle aged ladies wearing matching op-art dresses (and kinda reminding me of Eva and Adele, but without the drag) who asked me to photograph them for their art project. That all got me thinking that, rather than the usual curatorial “position” (scaled on the crap-o-meter), it would be great to gather up all of these artist/visitor projects and make a biennale about that…ah like all good ideas its time will come, or at least some turd will read this and nick it. (I’ll talk about my “friends” at the Kunsthalle in another post…)Graffiti Venice Biennale 2013

The world hangs on a thin thread…

Carl Jung talking about the crisis of the psyche

We live under the constant threat of what we might do and what we don’t do, taken hostage by our collective immaturity. Collective unconscious, social unconscious, the multitude: are we having a kind of (cross) cultural psychotic episode? Everything is catastrophised, the voices (and not just those in our heads) are telling us that everything is a bit fucked up. Here is Carl Jung’s dystopian prognosis writ large, and it’s no good looking for the boogeyman, it’s an inside job and only a productive disengagement as a micro-political tool, is possible. In this suicidal and self destructive psycho-geography we are nonetheless productive, producing a viscous mix of anxiety bile as conditioned fear becomes a manifest reality…our imaging is an imagining made physical reality, as we bring the collision course rogue comet from the psychic world to the physical.

“The world hangs on a thin thread…and that is the psyche of man…..”

Since Jung’s words in 1959, we have dreamed a trillion nightmares and only really understood very little about our collective selves. We seem to be gleefully unaware of our precarious grip on reality, on morals, because, let’s face it, there’s safety in numbers.

The psyche is the danger was made in 1995 from manipulated found video footage and is a vignette within the installation mix, Transcend your hidden power (1995.)

NAF(F) Art Vienna style

Not allowed in the exhibition hall

I did something very atypical for me a couple of Saturdays ago, I went to two art events. My personal strike against the artworld had to end eventually I suppose, it seems that the whole neo-liberal shebang (and I see the artworld, not necessarily art, as a component of that, I mean just follow the money, as they say) is whilst dangerously unstable, patently not collapsing. So I went to the Zine Fair at the Kunsthalle Wien and then to the Vienna Art Fair.

The Vienna Art Fair is 70% owned by a Russian rich guy, Dmitry Aksenov, a real estate developer and art investor (their term, note that he isn’t described as a collector), led on by Sergey Skaterschikov an art analyst who apparently wants to establish a ratings agency for art (seeing as they have been so accurate and reliable in the financial world! Duh.) They’d also like to buy (artworld sock-puppet) artnet  or similar website for this purpose and presumably, other boiler room operations. Anyway, the owner advises artist to produce their shit efficiently and for market one presumes. In 2012 the theme, or at least the tagline was The New Contemporary, hmm, we’ll come to that, but let’s just say that it had better be investment grade. The curators, tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber are presented in some kind of fashion dance photograph on the fair poster which puts them at the cool end of stupid, to be fair, they did do some sort of program to entertain the VIP and the prolls. But their masterpiece was the protest corner with petitions and jet setting activists. Here’s a quote from their website “The New Contemporary acknowledges the fact that the old geo-political and cultural dichotomies – East/West, North/South, and capitalist/communist – no longer hold.  Positive changes caused by economic forces are as likely to occur in Ljubljana as in London, St. Petersburg, and Paris.” Ah, did I miss the positive economic forces within world economy since 2007? Oh yeah,  they are living in the banksta paradise where everyone’s an oligarch who can have their own tame artists as pets? But despite the obvious comedic value (one was a former catwalk model), this isn’t about them darling, nor is it about the generically bland art booths, nor the VIP “Art lounge”. The question here is how has the art fair system, the market, managed to become so central not just in the selling of art (which is after all its purpose) but also to the determination of style and curatorial agendas ? Are these events akin to the fashion weeks in Paris, London, Milan and NYC? So in fact the curators here are just presenting an honest representation of social reality : capitalism’s sardonic movement for art is to reduce it to fashion and any merchandising enterprise needs a bit of sock puppetry, so an entire mostly parasitic industry has emerged. But what about the artists, the content producers? And what about the quality or vitality of their work? Whilst some artist have done well, thank you very much, many remain, for a multitude of reasons, at the margins. That’s to be expected, that’s how the (free) market works, right? But I’m afraid that even the artist run scene has been captured by fashion and cool, whilst the commercial gallerists lurk in the shadows. The discourse has been reduced to who you know and where you’ve been…am I so romantic that I can remember that there existed a vital discourse about art? Of course, now everyone is worried about being plagarised so they play their cards close to their chest and let their socks do the talking, ah yes, the tight arsed, purse lipped theorists, or is that dramaturgue? But anyway, how deep is the rabbit hole? Well deep enough for the Vienna Fair to have its own protest camp, haha, any artist who participated (ie got flown in from Russia or whatever) is a total wanker, but great for the punters, they can pay to see faux activism.  VIE NAF AIR…….could it be any more clear?

Its uncool to show your emotions

Okay, so let’s get to the slightly more in touch Zine Fair. This was held at the Kunsthalle Wien in the Museum Quatier and was curated by Cathérine Hug and Rita Vitorelli in the spirit of the independent producer. Again I’m not going to really comment on the content, except to say that it was as far as I could see, fairly standard hipster zine stuff, some of it engaging, especially (to my surprise) the photographic zines.

Having spoken to one of the curators earlier in the year I was expecting a sort of open door free for all : the hall packed with tables with a great diversity of materials, with young, old, student artists and teenagers (people that we might not otherwise get to see, perhaps Junk, non investment grade art using Skaterschikov’s rating metrics) showing the lightest and darkest sensations. But I was a bit disappointed to see a fairly tightly controlled emergence of nothing unexpected and was slightly amused that they jetted some guy from Paris in to talk about open source.) Despite the conceptual best intentions, the event couldn’t escape corporate capture : Der Standard newspaper presumably sponsored the opening discussion : Kulturtalk: Quo Vadis Wien? Eine Standortbestimmung der zeitgenössischen Kunstszene….and provided the comfy chairs.

But where does this leave my industrial action, well I’m waiting it out a little longer yet, Ghandi is right, we need to make morality personal and opt for personal disengagement, this is micro politics. In the meantime, the scabs and over ambitious can knock themselves out!

Perhaps the nightmare of art analysts, is just that. This takeover attempt will fail along with fiat money and fractional reserve banking and we’ll recommence a dialogue about what is affirming and benevolent, in art as in life. And our thoughts can be redirected from the pursuit of an object which brings a kind of death to most of our interactions.

Ben Bernanke and the leaky underpants

or, The Golden trickle….

Shit for shit

or, did that come out of Jackson Hole?

Well, whether Mr Bernanke did actually say it, or not, or maybe, the dear markets have been appeased again, the shit for shit deals are on, by gawd, by hook or by crook, we’re going to (try to) re-capitalise these banks, Draghi will of course mouth likewise. If rumours are anywhere approaching true, there may be a Bank that will soon need a shot, through the backdoor one would presume. But speculators take heart….one more shake of the cat.

Of course, the money will obviously fail to escape the event horizon of the financial black hole, nor the sticky fingers that it has to pass through. Ben and his ruffians are working at the wrong end of the debt problem. As Professor Steve Keen eloquently explains, this approach combined with austrerity is a misplacement of liquidity, debts need to be written off and the focus needs to be on the massive amounts of private debt. Public debt is of much less concern than private debt, which greatly outstretches it as a percentage of GDP. The servicing of the private debt load impacts consumption, which makes up c.70% of GDP… Keen is proposing a debt jubillee where the government would pay everyone a sum of money to retire their debt, or if debt free, spend into the economy. There are inflatonary issues there that need resolution and at the same time the debt deflation forces a deleveraging of the banks and probably some collapses (that’s where you’ve gotta get all Austrian and let them go.)

Prof Keen’s model applies particularly to the economies of the USA and Australia, but have an obvious global resonance. He was, by the way, one of the 12 economists identified by Dirk Bezemer who predicted the GFC and is much celebrated for his explanations and extensions of Hyman Minsky.

But nah, they’re not going to do that. A quick pump and dump before Armageddon?

A private island.