review by Stephen Malagodi
It seems we are in such a reactionary period, or perhaps simply one of profound but unacknowledged defeat, that only two modes of expression are possible, inane vapid entertainment (in which I include the cheap political splashes) or smothering nostalgia.
Compare what we see now to what was done from roughly the turn of the 20th century until the final exhaustion of 1970. The perspective was decidedly Futurist, Surrealist, Letterist, Dadaist and Situationist and then… Selfist. No looking forward, no rejection of dead past or dead form or dead beliefs, not even an attempt at a new vision or perspective. Only introspection at best, awful narcissism at worst.
Introspection is not necessarily bad, providing there is something gained by it. Narcissism and nostalgia however are thoroughly useless narcotic delusional behaviors, purveyed everywhere by the industrial state. It is the entertainment industry; the Devil dancing in sequins.
I saw Mr. Arrow’s installation at the onset of Art Basel, which I suppose prompted the inclusion of Jan and Dave to provide the required ‘party’ entertainment seemingly required of all AB events. For me, it was the ruination of a perfectly good installation. I would say that their performance was the epitome of bad theater, except it couldn’t be called the epitome of anything. Another badly executed attempt at a costume cabaret, with silly styrofoam props, a pointless toy helicopter, banal recitations, and horribly bad music. I would suggest that if Jan and Dave wish to continue to fancy themselves as performing artists, that they attain some skills at either dance, music or theater. I have no other good reason to look at them. For now, what they’re doing is bad juvenile fantasy, as they showed no evidence of a life beyond television.
If you can’t tell the difference between art and entertainment then how do you know when you’ve crossed the line between the merely boring and the overtly reactionary? Ok, it was Art Basel, not supposed to be serious. But if we are going to be serious, like adults, we need to see things in context with reality. Miami itself may not want to admit it, but the party’s over. Real life cannot be lived in a mode of magical realism forever. If there is a future then let’s look for it. If there is no future, then silence is appropriate. Either way, there’s no going back, even for a skilled collector of bones and images.
Overhead | Kevin Arrow | Dimensions Variable