BODY ART at EXIT ART
Art is a field somehow linked to sensuality and therefore attractive to those deficient in vital energy. Unfortunately there's too many of them now. Sheer overcrowding. They've drunk up art's joie de vivre, used it all, left no room for regeneration. Art has gone dry.
The Endurance show, Carolee Schneemann, Vito Acconci, Judith Barry, Bob Flanagan et al. There's no pleasure here, only mutilation and that pain which flesh is heir to. Chris Burden photographs of a friend shooting a .22 through his arm. My mind flashes to the William Tell overture. Wherefore these extremes? Lack of pleasure is pain. The audience at times looked pained.
Enthusiasm is linked to disorder and chaos, contemporary artists are distinguished by the serene calmness of their self control. Even twenty years ago, thinking here from Pollock to Warhol, bravado or at least an independence from bourgeois behavioral constraints were sought for and admired. David Byrne, Salle and that generation may have been our last expression of rebellious creative impulse.
Good girls and good boys are wanted now. Dependable, since most artists teach. The territory's so competitive the least scandal is grounds for dismissal. From teaching or from admission to "Le Monde". Sitting with George and Maggie, something makes me smile as people walk by, but can't put my finger on it. Then it hits; the mood underpinning (undermining) the occasion was "the carrot on a string" syndrome.
This was a big show, packed with both unknown and illuminatï indiscernible in their art world fashion. The illuminatï may find dreamed-of admiration or at least a diversion from boredom, the unknown drawn to possibilities of instant fame and fortune. In the "Tao of Winnie the Poh" it's called the disappearing jar of honey, forever eluding one's grasp. This kind of thing can't be caught directly; the terms "goals and ambition" imply frustration by their very definition. Time's running out. Frustration simmers under every surface, though it would never do to acknowledge it.
Body and beauty... Beauty is so undemocratic, I know... But please! It's not the only game in town and to dismiss it would impoverish our lives. Since even those who have that kind of beauty lose it with age, we find security in noting other equally persuasive powers such as personality. Beauty was certainly lacking on the walls though not in the crowd. Beauty is something we sell to the highest bidder and so the buyers and sellers walked side by side. This contrast, which looked so sensible, was as much the body art at Exit Art.
March 4, 1995