Virtual Reality

Steve Dalachinsky
May 2017

Melvin Edwards, Long, 2016, image courtesy of Arteidolia


(the whitney biennial 2017)

some of the images that went along with the piss poor Kamasi Washington music weren’t bad but the titled sections of his CD sum up everything this exhibit is NOT/ does not contain… they are  in no particular order: DESIRE  HUMILITY KNOWLEDGE  PERSPECTIVE  INTEGRITY  TRUTH & if i may be so BOLD as to add in many instances > INTELLIGENCE as artificial as that may be… oh there’s a lot of smart people involved… seems so many people are smart these days & there’s more than enough of obvious appropriation & political correctness & politics & self-consciousness & over awareness of racial problems & violence…kind of the Academy Awards of exhibits this year if you get my drift…  oh yeh that was like Henry Taylor (b.1958) referencing Bill Traylor – boy that even rhymes – & it got me thinking that Taylor’s scene of an African American man barbecuing was painted very much in the same manner as Dana Schutz’s (b. 1981), one of the youngest in the show & a woman, “Open Casket”  which depicted the murdered body of young Emmett Till. both were slightly derivative of Francis Bacon (answer) as were many of the paintings in the show / the big difference being that (shirts shorts – damn dictation) > Schutz is white & Taylor, black so (short) (schedule) Schutz who says the painting is not for sale & never will be, is vilified for painting an African American who was brutally murdered by whites but it’s okay for Taylor to paint an African American man barbecuing which in the case of much painting these days is way more of a stereotype… but i learned this well over 30 years ago when for a brief time i was involved in a poetry workshop where most of the poets were Asian…at one of the meetings i read (up home) a poem i had written about Chinatown / they immediately attacked me telling me i could  not write such a (palm) poem because i wasn’t Asian they even attacked Yuko for not writing about being Japanese. They all left my little apartment in a huff never to return again. it’s a kind of over-political correctness & in a way reverse racism. in other words if the work is not abstract/severely experimental must we be doomed to only  write about   paint about   dance about   sing about  shout (it out are) about our backgrounds  our ethnicities  our places of origin? it would be pretty boring if all i wrote about was the Holocaust   of being Jewish  or shooting dope (pool) or being a dope or mental illness or JAZZ. i mean what’s wrong with young white kids painting (inverted) black kids including a tragedy of this magnitude much of which still goes on today, unless, like in most cases on both sides of the fence, it’s only about stirring up controversy or the pot possibly in order to make sales. it’s like i went on lots of marches & thankfully they were fairly well integrated no matter what the event was about. maybe (shorts) Schutz really does empathize with Emmett Till. is that so bad?

& then we have a mature African-American artist like Melvin Edwards, not in biennial but now showing at the Alexander Grey Gallery, who sets a perfect example of the rational in his work, mixing pure abstraction with deep social messages without manipulation but rather thru manifestation, transcending both categories while remaining true to them, very rooted in African, American & African-American traditions & bringing out the best of those worlds. but i am sure there are some idiots out there with klanish mentalities that might even think he due to his color has no business making abstract art. it took long enough for him to gain wide recognition as it has with many other male & female artists. so who is or should be allowed to create or speak on behalf of or participate in art or gender or murder or violence or…? you get the point. or do I ?

and then (the weather) there were those fake Birchfields.

i wanted to like Jo Baer’s paintings more than i did because she was the elder in the show (b.1929) & therefore prejudicially i could say she was the most authentic. (replacing) but being placed next (always) to all those young kids her later paintings just kind of fit in stylistically. far from her early minimalist work they are (will week Sports) bleak sparse strange pale desolate “scapes” –  i kept thinking: abandoned coal mines ala strip mining… they worked for me on many levels with their nearly monochromatic (talent) palettes.  & she had (jihad) one big thing going for her. she was not living in Brooklyn. in fact she had left America long ago & has settled in Amsterdam for at least the past 40 (oh ideas) odd years.

speaking of minimalism what was with all those Matt Browning (b. 1984) bamboo-like wall hanging grid boxes scattered throughout the place straight out of a Lewitt noir.

someone quietly went around sprinkling red roses all over the floor in front of the exhibits on the fifth floor like a phantom we never saw – they were everywhere > single fresh cut roses > finally in front of one piece an entire bouquet – i first thought they were part of the exhibit until i saw one in the displaced boat peoples’ video room where i noticed a security guard picking it up…desire humility knowledge… i watched a lot of that video until the “hero” picked up the girl that had washed ashore or actually had been obviously placed there for us to imagine she had been washed ashore > but to the contrary rather than being washed up or washed out she was so immaculately perfect & pretty i got disillusioned about her plight and had to split…

…there was certainly an abundance of knowledge of how to rip off existing forms of art… especially if you compared many of the paintings in the show to the paintings in the other exhibit in the museum Fast Forward: Painting from the 80s by artists, many of whom died way too soon & who, in quite a few instances themselves appropriated   stole   ripped off so many (audits) damn dictation i meant others  before them… ah institutionalized art…& the sad part is most of those in the biennial now live in Brooklyn  a borough i used to be ashamed of having been born in & having grown up in… rage bloomed within me like a red rose as i watched Jordan Wolfson’s (b.1980) 90 second virtual reality exhibit “Real Violence” as he so eloquently puts it “violence as rupture…distortion of our everyday consciousness…a distillation of pure intensity” …hold on to the rail they tell us & away we go…but where do we go? to some city with tall buildings & one hipster-looking white kid smashing the other hipster-looking white kid’s head in with a baseball bat & stomping on his head repeatedly making it into a bloody pulp while the video or whatever it is has a voiceover of someone reciting in Hebrew the blessing for benching (lighting) candles on Hanukkah…so is this to show that instead of the lights burning with very little fuel that by continually stomping on someone’s head one can extinguish the life of another just like that? that violence whatever the color is not necessarily racially motivated but is a part of everyday life? – (need no cents) damn dictation again  i meant  made no sense   was horrific… is he a Jew or is he a racist? is it a statement about Israel & Palestine? is he African American or is he…?

& then there was this > sticking one’s head up into a hot little box that was a phony replica of a large Kusama room… to prove we can suffocate from art… in fact though i hate to say it, i liked this guy’s stuff though almost everything he did were tiny replicas of the fruits of others’ labors…but his is not a new concept  – everything in the fucking place was a replica of something including i’m sure replicas of replicas > lots of LA artists as well  > the ones who decided not to move to Brooklyn  & i just kept thinking commodities & Kamasi’s 6 point program     a total defilement of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” except that the music was somewhere between Kenny G & gee whiz… so what did i get out of the show or perhaps what did i overlook?  sensationalism  vertigo   baloney an entire room made of baloney & me without any bread to make a sandwich    theft  as in grand theft ART–O   appropriation   lack of originality  too much overt sexuality   Tala Madani’s (b. 1981) anal paintings with turds all over them  > you know   the arses are marses.. rather the asses are masses no no no it’s  the masses are asses… so shove it up your… & did i like anything? yes (within the PC of there but why going to)… like dictating to this machine what i actually said was like a piece here & there but why go into it…again?    > was this exhibit organized to  inaugurate the new Whitney? after all it is the first biennial there since they opened… or to repeat myself was it to provoke feelings   responses? i didn’t see any from that security guard who looked like a sad painting himself with an angry bewildered look  gross gruff quiet voice & big ears… there are no mistakes when everything is a mistake so where does it all end up?  at  JP Morgan’s? Tiffany’s? (southward bees) no no dictation i said (Southern bees) no no no SOUTHERBY’s  SOUTHERBY’s (i type) – provocation  … are they really angry? are they really making a statement?  am i really making a statement? – violence  violence (violins) violence  rip offs …jerk offs … money makers & art world fakers  but they sure work hard… like this music on the radio  a really competent pianist who sounds so much like CECIL T … it might as well be… but never will.

& that’s just the tip of the artberg. so if you need a good kick in the head as most of us do  go see this show.

note: words in parenthesis were produced by the computer as i dictated this piece to it. some were corrected but many were left alone. it creates an interesting effect. or does it simply deplete the seriousness of the work??

One response to “Virtual Reality”

  1. Rock says:

    Thank you world and/for Steve Dalachinsky. Don’t ever stop.