Friday, August 17, 2012

dumbing down of expressions (Freight+Volume's new exhibition)

I am thoroughly fatigued by the New York art world's over the top  illustrative fascination with sex imagery. Every season there are several shows promising some "revolutionary" expression that suggests we are going to, as viewers, be amused, titillated, moved, that we need to have some conventional conceptions broken by wholly dismally painted  or videoed crotch shots of pussy and cock in various forms and medium. If you are an adult past college years, the crotch shot is something most of us see a lot of in our own homes with the ones we love, pick-up, or watch on a screen. There's nothing particularly special about it unless it's under the sheets with me. Then, it's special. I feel the same way about strip bars, I just don't get the fascination, but when I have to see tits and ass and cock in art galleries I want it to kick my ass. Say something meaningful, or be beautiful, or so ugly to spur something within me. But I can't help but feel tired by the same juvenilia that I see again and again these days. It's like artists have embraced Beavis and Butthead (heh heh hehing their way to mediocrity) so fully that they've lost any distance and it becomes deadly poetic fallacy...Pretending to say something about something, but in the act, the art becomes the thing itself. Tired illustration saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing. Porn, bad porn, fetish, is fine. It has it's purpose. Nakedness and sexiness are wonderful qualities for inspiration, but why engage the lowest common expression...? in Freight + Volume's new show I experienced the most dumbing down of expressions. Most of the work had the humor of a teenaged boy. There were a few nice pieces in the mix of some 20 odd artists, but they were completely colored and tainted by the miasma of Butthead urgency work all over the place. I actually like Nick the curator of this show. I think fundamentally the urge to reflect novelty, youthful urgency, can be a sticky and difficult thing to negotiate. I applaud the attempt in many of his curatorial efforts I've seen over the years. But, man, we want to see kick-ass work, not artistic drop-outs being elevated (even for a slap dash Summer show).

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