The Truth Hurts

mike kelly

Mike Kelly, Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites, 1991-9. Sold for $2,704,000 in 2006

“I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. Why? The reason is simple: because life is about giving, not getting.”
– Hubert Selby, Jr., Requiem for a Dream 

Below are links to a pair of graphs that speak to American delusion. The particular genius of Americans is that they’re capable of believing whatever fantasies their TV sells them without question or critical thought. While American middle-class income is 27th in the world,  Americans believe they sit at the top. Their TV tells them that. While the US healthcare system ranks 37th in the world  they’re told by their TV they have the greatest health care system in the world. The vast majority believe this utter bullshit and if given evidence like that below have every excuse in the world ready to deny reality. If there is one thing that is certain, their TV doesn’t lie.

The ultra-wealthy have robbed the middle class blind over the last three decades at a steady pace. They actually believe that there’s some kind of significant difference between Reagan and Clinton! The middle class lost ground during the Clinton years at a greater pace than they did under Reagan. As American working class productivity went up, American wages declined or stayed stagnant. As for the current Liberal hero, each consecutive year he’s been in office the transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top has continued apace. To hear him speak over the last week about the plight of the American middle class after he’s cast his lot with Wall Street and Corporations makes one want to blow lunch.

Meanwhile, for those who might have slept through it, Detroit has gone bankrupt. While our wonderful liberal press and radio (thank you NPR) offered “analysis” (naturally neoliberal analysis) that other cities have declared bankruptcy in the past only to rise from the ashes reborn, Detroit is finished. And so are any other number of American cities that regularly go unmentioned so as not to tarnish the delusion of the great City on the Hill. The City on the Hill is Detroit. Have a good look.

Detroit was the heart of American power and technological dominance and now serves as the latest poster child of American collapse. America is finished. The fact that Americans can’t even begin to acknowledge the reality of what has been done to them, much less attempt to reverse it,  is why it’s finished. It’s been finished not by a military coup-d’etat but by a corporate coup d’etat. And now the corporate monster stands ready to employ the military to crush even the slightest dissent.

As for American awareness of this reality, try the comment below on a fellow citizen and see where the discussion goes, if it even starts:

“The bottom 40 percent of all income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.  But of course many on Wall Street and in the government would argue that there is nothing wrong with an economy where nearly half the people are dividing up 1 percent of the benefits.”

Here’s a graph succinctly illustrating the departure of Americans from known reality:

As far as American Art goes, not to worry. While the Detroit Institute of Art will no doubt be looted by the ultra-rich as Detroit tries to bail out of it’s $18 billion dollar debt by selling off its public assets, Americans can go to Detroit’s Museum of Contemporary Art to commune with the soul of the great American Genius of the hanging stuffed toy, Mike Kelley. Kelley, of course, is a great favorite of the corporate class who’ve subsidized his  career while he spreads his message of nihilistic narcissism/carnie sideshow, which is naturally adored by an art world thoroughly mired in rapt wonder at its own vacuous reflection.

And where do our art critics stand? Are they rallying around to defend the looting of a great American Art Museum? One of them, noted human turd and corporate shill Peter Schjeldahl, offered his esteemed opinion that it was a grand idea to sell off the collection to the highest bidder  no doubt ingratiating himself with the constituency he aims to please, the corporate swine who stand salivating to get their hands on the collection.

More on the death of Detroit…

William Howard Kunstler:

Richard Wolff:

“One economist, Guardian columnist Dean Baker, estimated in 2011 that the shortfall in public pensions could be as huge as $1tn. A monster of this size cannot remain hidden long. It will catch up with cities and states.”

I have to admit I’m glad I’ve found HYPERALLGERIC blog so that I can stay abreast of the latest developments in art.

Its there I’ve learned that American Art has found its echo around the globe, attracting  people with borderline personality disorder from all countries and enabling them to express themselves through the wonder of ART.  It’s comforting to know that as Americans descend into bankruptcy, random violence and corporate rule, they’ll be able to turn to artists like the ones below to help illuminate things:

About trueoutsider

I'm an artist.
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4 Responses to The Truth Hurts

  1. wewordsmiths says:

    Re: Hyperallergic. The lazy fetish for childish food & mud play might have charm as a one-off goof at some regional venue. For it to last so long as headlining PA is not really surprising, yet still odd, and not in a good way.

    Mere muck is once amusing, twice dull. Likewise mere shock. Muckshock must then be dull dull. But no. Just make the act longer or more shocking-dull! Or both. That will do it.

    I turn away.

  2. trueoutsider says:

    Happy New Year, William. All the best in the coming one.

    I went to art school when Vito Acconci was masturbating under the stairs at Sonnabend Gallery. I got up to NYC quite a bit in those days, but even then I could have cared less about Acconci jerking off or Beuys and his lard and coyote act. I’d primarily spend my time in MoMA or the Met. It’s only gotten worse since the 70s. But it was lousy then. Why everyone went for it, I have no idea, but I’ve been radically separated from the American art world for my entire life, although I’ve participated in it on the fringes and am well aware of the slimy deals at its center. The stuff nobody ever talks about.

    Artists themselves have let this ridiculous charade carry on and as far as I can tell are perfectly fine with it as a three-ring circus.

    I’ve had any number of artists grumble to me behind the scenes on the blog, but I don’t see any committing themselves to public condemnation of the complete and transparent corruption of our galleries and art museums. And for the most part I’m unable to talk to any artists, as any kind of criticism of any sort leveled at what passes for contemporary art is simply not tolerated. I’ve had all of one artist I’m aware of talk dismissively of Warhol, but in the next breath speak enthusiastically of Rauschenberg and Rosenquist. I’m unaware of any artists in the “contemporary art world” who dismiss the entirety of Pop Art as a bad joke. Contemporary Art is just as fervent a religious cult as Scientology or Jehovah’s Witnesses as far as I can tell. Or Jim Jones and Jonestown… I imagine there are some dissenters in the contemporary art world, but just like in Jonestown they’re too terrified to say it’s all a crock for fear that Jim Jones will banish them from the cult. They’ve already swallowed the kool-aid from everything I can tell and just as zombie-like in their inability to think critically about anything. Faith-based Art just like our faith-based politics…Of course the faith that it’s based on is the Money Faith. If Rauschenberg is worth billions of dollars and everybody in the art world sings his praises then it has to be concluded that miles of haphazardly silkscreened newspapers are immortal works of art.

    George Carlin said it all. “They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe in it.” That goes double for the art world.

    A class of total morons took over in the 70s and that was the end of the story for art of any quality or seriousness here in America. Naturally comics art and graffitti art and childlike scribble art and howdy doody performance art have become the norm. When a moron class takes over, infantile art becomes the norm (see East Village.. Fun Gallery, Kostabi, Tony Shafrazi ad nauseum). I like a lot of comic art and illustration and so on–and since my subconscious is filled with animation from my childhood, just as Guston’s was filled was comic art, it comes out in my work. But there’s nothing remotely childish about my work. Nor is a van Gogh or a Picasso childish. But America has turned the art of van Gogh and Picasso into true infantilism… Jean Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Susan Rothenberg, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns… The Poverty of Modernism says it all. Art without a hint of content… a horse with a line through it… numbers painted one on top of the other… childish skull and crown scribbles,,, rounded stick figures… Do any of our exalted critics cry: “What the fuck are we looking at, much less what the fuck are we doing writing reams of extravagant praise for this bullshit”…

    But back to the total morons who set the pace… the snail’s pace… the high standards that everyone merrily enthuses over from Miami Basel to Basel Basel… from Shanghai to Dubai :

  3. wewordsmiths says:

    Thanks very much for your New Year’s greetings! I doff my green cap to you & yours for a pleasing season!

    I’ll reply to the body of this post when I can gather my wits a bit more…

    As to something obvious & nauseus-amusing, my response to the LeWitt vid:

    Number 9. Number 9. Number 9…

    Cringeworthy. My very skin shudders in a revulsion of instinct.

    ! : He’ll “TRY to pause between each statement…..”

    Really. How hard could it be? Especially since the text is right there on his lap. Which he’s not even using as a crutch, but reading straight from!

    Robert Graves could quote pages of Virgil from memory. Verbatim. Not a bad poet, and a better novelist.

    Well, at least his vacuity matches his material. This “work” of LeWitt (if, like Col. Bat Guano, that really IS his name) reeks of the cleverism of a failed philosopher wannabe. Something I suspect Greenberg, et al were in Nines, not Kings. Proud, loud, bloodless nines. I give them a zero for effort.

    My best regards,

  4. trueoutsider says:

    Since we’re on the subject of reading from prepared texts, here’s art critic Claudia Schwalb trying her best while introducing Conceptual genius, Les Levine. Levine is a scintillating mind showering sparks everywhere so you might have to play this one over two or three times because the insights come so fast and furious that .

    I love where Les informs Claudia that conceptual art “was simultaneous to Pop art; it was happening at the same time.” One has to appreciate that when these conceptual geniuses use big words like “simultaneous” they also provide the definition of them to their listening audience, who I imagine are challenged by any words longer than two syllables.

    All of this “art” and the “art criticism” accompanying it, of course, smack of the pseudo-philosophical. Pick up an old Art Forum and see how many times you encounter words like “ontological”, “epistemological”, “tautological” etc. Presumably it’s much the same now. I can’t imagine it’s worse but you never know. There’s all this hand-wringing by some faction of the “old guard” art critics… “Oh my God!!! Everything has gone to total hell with that empty-headed clown Jeff Koons.” And these would be the same critics writing glowing reviews of Sol Lewitt crapola or Dan Flavin fluorescent tubes (see Donald Kuspit). If my only choice was between the dour stupidities of Conceptual Art and the infantile/narcissistic stupidities of Jeff Koons and company (with someone putting a gun to my head) I’d opt for Koons.

    I need to pick a new Art Forum to get a sense of the contrast between art writing in 2014 and art writing in 1974. I haven’t tried to read one in years. Does anybody? Of course, it’s hardly just the art world that deals in academic gibberish. Chris Hedges has a wonderful “deconstruction” of a Jürgen Habermas paragraph in “The Death of the Liberal Class” that exposes it as typical of the ridiculous academic jargon that’s a staple of Universities now.

    Or you can just watch a couple minutes of Habermas himself…

    I happened to think of looking up Ad Reinhardt’s Art Statement. Reinhardt strikes me in retrospect as exhibiting the same characteristic that Christopher Lasch outlined in his 1991 book “The Culture of Narcissism.

    How could an artist write “The artist-as-artist’s second enemy is the art dealer who deals in art, the private collector who collects art, in other words, the public profiteer who profits from art” … while simultaneously (at the same time) engaging in exactly those activities he’s busily denouncing? Either Reinhardt is a delusional narcissist or he’s a cynical opportunist. If he thinks his painting is better than all the other representational work that has come before him, as he’s stating, then he’s a delusional narcissist. If he doesn’t believe that then he’s a pompous self-promoting hypocrite. I don’t see any third way of viewing an artist like Reinhardt.

    ” In Lasch’s definition (drawn from Freud), the narcissist, driven by repressed rage and self-hatred, escapes into a grandiose self-conception, using other people as instruments of gratification even while craving their love and approval. Lasch saw the echo of such qualities in ‘the fascination with fame and celebrity, the fear of competition, the inability to suspend disbelief, the shallowness and transitory quality of personal relations, the horror of death.’” (from Lee Siegel, NY Times, Feb. 5 2010)

    It’s pretty hard not to read Ad Reinhardt’s manifesto as anything but an exercise in “grandiose self-conception.”

    “The next revolution in art will be the same, old, one revolution. Every revolution in art turns over art from art-as-also-something-else into art-as-only-itself.
    The one, eternal, permanent revolution in art is always a negation of the use of art for some purpose other than its own. All progress and change in art is toward the one end of art as art-as-art.
    An avant-garde in art advances art-as-art or it isn’t an avant-garde.
    Art-as-art is as old as art and artists. Artists have always practiced, if not always professed, secretly or openly, art-as-art as artists. Artists-as-artists have always worked the same way and have always made the same things.
    Art-as-art is always a battle cry, polemic, picket sign, sit-in, sit-down, civil disobedience, passive resistance, crusade, fiery cross, and non-violent protest.
    The artist-as-artist’s first enemy is the philistine-artist, the “all-too-human” or subhuman or superhuman artist inside or outside or beside himself, the socially useful and usable artist, the artist-jobber and sales artist, the expressionist-businessman and “action” artist, the artist who “has to eat,” who has to “express himself,” and who lives off, on, in, for or from his art.
    The artist-as-artist’s second enemy is the art dealer who deals in art, the private collector who collects art, in other words, the public profiteer who profits from art.
    The artist-as-artist’s third enemy is the utilitarian, acquisitive, exploiting society in which any tendency to do anything for its own transcendental sake cannot be tolerated.
    Art-as-art has always been and always will be a trouble for philosophers, priests, politicians, professors, patriots, provincials, property people, proud possessors, primitives, poets, psychiatrists, petit-bourgeois persons, pensioneers, patrons, plutocrats, paupers, panderers, pecksniffs, and pleasure-seekers, for the reason of art’s own Reason that needs no other reason or unreason.”

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