Monday, November 24, 2008

Matt Mullican in NYT; the other Tulip mania; Butler on Obama

Matt Mullican, whose survey I've curated is currently on view at The Drawing Center, profiled in the New York Times:

Mr. Mullican’s high school notebook foreshadows what has become for him a career-long investigation: How do we all insert ourselves into the imagery that bombards us every day? Why does the pain of another person, or even a stick figure, become our own? What is the basis of human empathy? How can thoughts and emotions be communicated

“It’s all about projection,” Mr. Mullican said. “I’m sitting in front of you now, and you’re seeing me. But you’re also seeing lots of other things, based on your own experiences.”

This “subject-object” divide, as it is known in philosophical circles, is nothing new, according to João Ribas, a curator at the Drawing Center in SoHo. But what intrigues him about Mr. Mullican’s work, he said, was “the way Matt attempts to collapse this split through the medium of drawing.”

That process is
explored in “Matt Mullican: A Drawing Translates the Way of Thinking,” an exhibition that opens Friday at the center. Featuring more than 100 artworks made over 35 years, it includes Mr. Mullican’s stick-figure sketches, videos of him drawing while under hypnosis, large-scale rubbings based on original works on paper that have since been photocopied and cut out, and vitrines displaying — you guessed it — notebooks. Read More
Ben Lewis writes in Prospect Magazine about "a second Tulip mania," the contemporary art bubble:

The bubble in contemporary art is about to pop. It has exhibited all the classic features of the South Sea bubble of 1720 or the tulip madness of the 1630s. It has been the bubble of bubbles—balancing precariously on top of other now-burst bubbles in credit, housing and commodities—and inflating more dramatically than all of them. While British house prices took six years to double at the start of this century, contemporary art managed it in just one, 2006-07. (Over the same period, old masters went up by just 7.6 per cent and British 17th to 19th century watercolours actually lost value.) Contemporary art in the emerging economies did even better. The value of its sales in China increased by 983 per cent in one year (2005-06). In Russia they rose 2,365 per cent in five years (2000-05), while its stock market increased by "only" about 300 per cent.

Contemporary art turned out to be an ideal vehicle for speculative euphoria. The market is almost entirely free from state interference. Governments have had little interest in regulating the trinkets and playthings of the super-rich. Art works are a uniquely portable and confidential form of wealth. Whereas all property purchases have to be publicly registered, buying art is a private activity. And unlike old masters, which are often linked by history to specific places, contemporary art knows no frontiers. Read more.
Judith Butler on the "uncritical exuberance" of the Obama election:

It becomes all the more important to think about the politics of exuberant identification with the election of Obama when we consider that support for Obama has coincided with support for conservative causes. In a way, this accounts for his "cross-over" success. In California, he won by 60% of the vote, and yet some significant portion of those who voted for him also voted against the legalization of gay marriage (52%). How do we understand this apparent disjunction? First, let us remember that Obama has not explicitly supported gay marriage rights. Further, as Wendy Brown has argued, the Republicans have found that the electorate is not as galvanized by "moral" issues as they were in recent elections; the reasons given for why people voted for Obama seem to be predominantly economic, and their reasoning seems more fully structured by neo-liberal rationality than by religious concerns. Read More.