Monday, September 21, 2009

What he said

I've come across a few good quotes recently. First this discussion of the importance of creating problems in your work, from artist Chuck Close, via Glasstire, a continually interesting site for visual art in Texas:

'For me, the most interesting thing is to back yourself into your own corner where no one else's answers will fit. You will somehow have to come up with your own personal solutions to this problem that you have set for yourself. I never wanted people in front of my work thinking about another artist.

See, I think our society is much too problem-solving oriented. It is far more interesting to participate in "problem creation" -- it is more interesting than problem solving.'*
It reminded me quite a lot of some things Wystan Curnow had to say, in his seminal essay on New Zealand culture 'High Culture in a Small Province' back in 1973, when he suggested that the 'highest level' of culture is comprised of people with great tolerance for ambiguity and an interest in problems: making them, analysing them, solving them. The problem in New Zealand, he felt, was that the necessary conditions were not in place to allow such people to flourish here: 'the true specialists we export'. I always think of Len Lye when I read this.

And from one of my great heroes, the wise-cracking poker-playing Lester Bangs of art history, Prof. Dave Hickey:

'Everything has to deviate. And the easiest way to do this is to change the canon: to go back 40 years and find someone you like and start stealing shit from him. And this is called going back to the moment right before it started sucking. Go back to '75, you see Richard Tuttle, you say, ‘Oh this sucks,’ go back further.'

'A perfectly ordinary field mouse does all the field mouse shit you’d want it to do. A perfectly ordinary work of art just disappears.'

'Patronage has its price. It’s about the insecurities of the patron.'

'I’m standing here today because about ten of the critics who were about to snatch the torch from my failing grasp died of AIDS in the ’80s. Otherwise I would’ve been playing Texas Hold ‘em all day in Las Vegas.'
More Hickeyisms here at Little Known Facts. Via @jaymjordan and @TylerGreenDC.

And then there's this, from New Zealander @Homage on Twitter, currently travelling in the US, which speaks of a profound cultural difference between New Zealand and the States:

'One thing I've noticed about the American people is they're much more likely to fix your label when it's sticking out.'

And finally, from the utterly reliable @shitmydadsays, a Twitter account run by 29-year-old Justin who lives with his 73-year-old father:

"Sometimes life leaves a hundred dollar bill on your dresser, and you don't realize until later that it's because it fucked you."

A little wisdom in there for all of us.

*From interview with Chuck Close by Joe Fig, Inside the Painter's Studio, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009.
Chuck Close photograph via Swindle Magazine. Dave Hickey photograph via Drawer.

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