Friday, September 25, 2009

Nothing for Itself - Curatorial Statement

Pluralist Paintings, Born in the Middle of Salad

The concept of “nothing for itself” came about in the conversation between representation and diversity. Representative objects are xenophiles, referring away from themselves. The frequency of sexual imagery in this show acts as an attractor towards further replication of people and things. Representation and diversity are organic, and, seeing culture as an ecology, benefit the whole system. At the same time, any individual artwork, and any one of its settings, can be seen as its own system.

The Lower East Side is often described as having both vivacity and diversity, in that there are cultures continually warring each other -- long habituated, although not necessarily superlatively so, to the continual financial encroachment cycle of NYC. There is a particular tendency towards a kind of micro-radicalism, an insistence on artists remaining equally poor but supporting each other within, and in direct resistance to, one of the most purely fiscally motivated geographies in the world.

The city is rich in resources that art needs to reproduce itself – money, and attention. So the image of Nuyorican imagery, since Andy Warhol, is fixated on raw competition, self-awareness, and its own marketability. A kind of continually fulfilled desire for plurality over a gained majority, as with people and groups of people, motivates a democratic culture. Yet moderation, collaboration, or cooperation for its own sake cannot benefit other qualities. Such is the melting pot to the salad. The qualities that attract resources are not necessarily aesthetic, although the concept of considering what takes a greater share of resources aesthetically superior has its own attraction. The qualities of self-aggrandizement and narcissism are strong attractors, and it is a choice to counteract them. Some things will be for their own sake, others for the sake of others, some in a continuous chain, some in loops, all in complicatedly interdependent relationships. Be a nature preserve for endangered ideas.
This is not another gripe about commoditization and the market, nor does it praise it. If it contradicts itself, all the better. Although any solo show exists in a jungle of other art within the same market, the generous aim of diversity in Nothing For Itself permeates fractally within the individual works, artists, painting styles, the show, the neighborhood, the city, the country, the world, and the multiverse.

In the current economic stall, it has become important to develop economies of service and giving to others. JS Flores’s recently executed painting reflects the feeling of the times, of a multitude of desperate people competing for nothing more than your attention. In Allison Moore’s interpretations of images from nearby locales, displays of variety awaiting the choice of the consumer become competitions between the very colors and shapes used to represent them. Like Moore, Bruesselbach dizzies and disorients, to the point of making explicitly depicted human bodies flatten and abstract, in parody of the flattening liquidation of material culture. Talley also uses the most eye-capturing possible images, taken from pornography, and saturated colors appealing to inner and outer children. Yet the compositions are continuous playful processes without the cyclopean vision of traditional representation.

Through three of the four artists, California manifests strongly in this show, particularly the distributed post-city of Los Angeles. Certainly the imagery addresses distinctly American experiences, including two second-generation meso-Americans, a product of secular Jewish matriarchy, and an African-American from D.C.
Desire that by being set with each other, the qualities of any given piece of this show become greater. Hope that they do not necessarily have to fight for themselves. Intend to be for something else, not because it is for itself, but because it is for many others. Or be for something selfish, because agenda forget pluralism. See something else in everything, and take nothing for itself.

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