Return to Sender – Slum Art from the Studio
I’d cheer you on, but the life that you’ve wanted forever just doesn’t happen anymore. The tent pegs were yanked out of the earth hastily years ago and all the talent went into advertising. So you won’t be waking up in a bed filled with exhausted culture critics all suffering from the same psychoactive compound, mumbling micro-mantras in their sleep. The finishing touches on that multi-media instillation piece featuring a giant LED lit baby head isn’t going to be interrupted by your key investor’s praise. It just isn’t happening anymore. And it serves you right for wanting to pursue the arts during this recession.
Your loosely scheduled workweek’s ambitions will be more commonly rooted somewhere below eye-level and slightly above an insufficient funds notice. Being that the art boom has almost nothing to do with you and your emerging artist bohemian hellhole, you must cling to that part-time job in the vanishing castle more than ever and keep your wishes locked in those perishable goods that you’ve been calling art for so long.
But NO!!! The IT factor is in all of us and you are dead set on slathering that ‘it’ across the mouth of eternity.
Exhibiting the urgency of the economic downturn in your work will seem like a sure bet to secure your spot in the art world. Tilling the fresh earth with your bare hands and barking the common man’s concerns at bourgeois families’ bankbooks. It’ll feel like you’re steering the zeitgeist from your cluttered workstation, molding the popular ideas of the day into a tangible coughed up chunk of lung tissue. But before you throw that bloody pulp on the wall in hopes that all floating legal tender will stick to it, consider what you’re up against: A consumer culture diametrically disinterested in the stories of losers.
Actually it’s the stories of losers from the mouths’ of losers that get the muted rounds of applause. In times of economic unrest (ie. always) the average American will hold ideas that promote security closer to their heart rather than those that challenge any existing precedent. Be it film, political platforms, music or diets; people are grabbing the most soothing combinations of opiates to swallow down the specific sadness of the day. And an aggrandized voice pouring from some anonymous golden heart housed in urban decay will not help explain the grip of that urban decay to it half-digested captors.
That’s because art is not for them. It’s for millionaires bidding on the works of dead art greats to feed the latest asset bubble. As a living artist, you are here to merely titillate the crowd of plebeian mallrats and low-grade socialites that occupy the fringes of the engorged art bubble. Its great and noble cause in itself, but its dependence on this unsustainable bubble is alarming at best.
But who cares! Your work is different. It demands the age-old middle class notion that the artist’s boundless creative muscles are to be nurtured and allowed to flourish with the help of adequate funding, praise and patronizing sit-downs. Your skilled hand actually enriches the quality of our comings and goings. But what if your audience never reached outside of your studio apartment? What if the money never comes? Will your work survive?
After years of being an artist, I only know one thing. We will never be ‘stars’. So what is this pile of shit that I made for? It’s for selling soft drinks to impressionable teens, my dear.