Still mulling over the Gaylen Gerber artist talk I attended at White Flag Projects last night. I raced to get there after packing to dog-sit, so I didn't have time to see the show beforehand. I did listen to the Bad At Sports podcast of an interview with him and look at some images online- When listening to him speak to the very limited audience- it make my face flush with an emotion I can't identify. I can't tell if I had more of an issue with the constant comments of the couple berating everything he said or the presentation itself.
With him constantly repeating "the relationship between things" being so vital to his work or what it was about- the arbitrary nature of the installs seems an affront to it. However- seeing slides of architecture doesn't convey the sense of space- which is probably required to appreciate the re installation of wall-paintings. It seemed very formulaic. By framing his practice by saying he isn't a curator but an artist, and that he doesn't have to take responsibility for his actions because of the subjectivity allotted to an artist- seems a big cop-out. Or is it freedom to not have to ruthlessly edit that I am jealous of? Parts of the practice seem very unattended to and indulgent as a poorly-executed personal fiction in a visual format This notion haunts me. The continuous barrage of snide comments made by the couple next to me surely affected my reception of the slide show--- I'll have to return to see the work again in person.
I was interested to hear from an artist whose work appeared to be so modest- but it seemed really indulgent from his presentation of it. Certain equations of it seemed grandiose and empty at the same time. Because I still have doubts of the real power of artwork that does not extend beyond an initiated audience (being so opaque and self referential)- this is another aspect that nags me. But I have a strong envy of those who can produce artworks and not second guess the vocation; mine would be a completely different existence if I could leave my doubts at the door. Perhaps it's too wrapped up in art-speak to sing for me, the notion of never being able to leave an aspect of painting behind seems to limit the work.
The issues the artwork bring up is of interest to artists- to authorship, trademark, and act of installing... I love the notion of paintings about nothing- being completely neutral and in losing their content become context. My irritations and interest in Gerber's work will be further processed and help me formulate my approach for install at McHenry in August-- working title "Shooting Blanks"...
Since it always takes fermenting time to get a good question in--- I would be much interested in getting into a conversation about Gerber's teaching philosophy. About 16 hours ago, I would have had my chance. Too bad there can't be a week-after follow-up session for artist presentations. I think all parties involved would get much more out of it. It would be great to groundhog day it and see if sitting next to a quieter bunch would have make the presentation reveal more than my distaste for snide art crowds (and speaking directly to only that audience).