Art Strike Now! You Start


John Perreault is a chucklehead. His blog, Artopia, has been in my blog list for a little while now, because I've found him entertainingly dopey; but I don't expect he'll last very long in my list because one day I'll realize I haven't read anything from him in months and might as well delete him.

But today Franklin commented on something John wrote; or, more specifically, on something John quoted from artist Gustav Metzger. It seems some anonymous artist somewhere is calling for a three-year art strike -- artists unite and stop selling your work! I suppose that would be great if only most artists were actually selling their work. Personally I'd be out exactly fifty bucks if I'd been on strike for the past three years.

Looking back, though, on Gustav Metzger's proposed art strike years -- 1977 through 1980 -- I wish we could retroactively strike them. Think of all the Richard Prince we would've been saved from! Or maybe if we had suspended the 1980s entirely: No Koons, no Turner Prizes. Early '90s: No Currin! No Hirst!

Damn, this is sounding better and better!

I'm actually not sure I should waste time discussing John and his obvious chuckleheadedness -- he writes like a an acid casualty, with the kind of elderly faux profundity that makes me wonder what he's done of any merit -- and yet, since John asks what is at risk, should artists actually go on strike, which they in no way ever will, and goes on point by point, I have an urge to go through them one at a time.

"So what is at risk?" asks John, and continues:

One: It is not certain that the public will really miss contemporary art. I think it's absolutely certain that the public will totally fail to miss contemporary art. If a single person outside the few who wander into Chelsea or Williamsburg on Thursday nights even notices that contemporary art isn't being shown, I'm certain they'll think no more about it. Contemporary art is that completely disconnected from the lives of non-art world people.

Two: It is not certain that artists will really miss making art. As many artists there are who whine that it's what they must do, what their deep souls compel them to do, that they absolutely have to create or die -- that's how many artists I believe are full of shit. The same urges to "create" "art" can just as easily be employed in compulsive masturbation and doodling on napkins.

Three: It is not certain that the collapse of the art system will result in the demise of the collector and the collector mentality; tulip bulbs or light bulbs or clown noses may become the next new collectible. Unlike today, where only fine contemporary art is collected. Whole industries are not built upon collecting, say, ceramic Christmas villages. And thank god for that because lord knows that kind of world wouldn't be worth living in.

Four: It is not certain that "artists" will find other things to do to keep themselves out of trouble. Sexual shenanigans, alcohol abuse, and dangerous drug use could escalate. On the other hand, service at Starbucks will be faster, what with all the new baristas.

Five: It is not certain that preparators, receptionists, art-handlers, framers, and all the cooks and waiters working in nearby restaurants and lunchrooms will ever again find gainful employment. I'm guessing the gallerinas will be hit most hard by the artist strike; who else but the art galleries would hire so many slim-hipped gamines?

Six: It is equally uncertain that critics, curators, and the like will be able to find other ways of making a living. It is certain that parents will no longer think of art as a safe career for their clean-cut spawn and will therefore force them to go to law school or study engineering. This reminds me of a quote from Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. He wrote once that when young people ask if they should go into cartooning, he advises them to become dry cleaners instead. Because he doesn't need the cartooning competition, but he'd love to pay less for his dry cleaning. Also: Does anyone actually think of art as a safe career?

I'd like to think that John is writing in a satirical vein. But nothing I've read from him so far leads me to believe he's capable of that level of subtlety. I can't imagine that he honestly believes anyone will strike; but I also can't imagine that he doesn't think it would be a good thing if they did. I can certainly state, however, that three years without John Perrault's art writing would be an unequivocal good.


For some reason your newest posts are showing up below the humdinger from the that is a long post, people may not realize these are down here, and miss their chance to get angry at you all over again!

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