#92 Beauty is Where you Find It

Another older piece, an assemblage of debris found on the street around the Ox, the collective warehouse in Kensington, where I lived in 2012. This isn’t a celebration of decay–but of what I imagine we must do: reclaim from the ruins of capitalism, a vision for a new world!

(I don’t want to call these ‘assemblages’ anymore. My motives are not those of Rauschenberg, who I think, was the first to use that term. I don’t use ‘everyday objects,’ I use debris, the decay of consumerism, and my purpose is transformation. I was thininking: reclinations, a portmanteau or transformation, and recycle.
It would be nice if I had photoshop, and could make the background neutral.)
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Titles

I’ve started adding titles to my work.

No, these titles weren’t on my mind while I was making these pieces. They’re partly tongue in cheek… but only partly so. While I don’t think metaphorically when I work–don’t think in words much at all, beyond… “where did I leave the cap to the cadmium yellow?” … I feel, deeply so, the conflict between what it means to make art in this time, feel deeply the impossibility of escaping the grinding jaws of capitalism that inevitably turn whatever an artist does into a commodity, reduced to exchange value. There’s no escape — the most explicit anti-capitalist, revolutionary call to arms–can expect no better fate, its message reduced to a decoration on some wealthy collectors wall. Better oblivion. Better to burn them all.

…better still… to do what I’m compelled to do.

I will not give anyone else the power of judgement over my work. If you think my art merely decorative, serving no revolutionary purpose… these titles express something of why I think you are wrong. To explore the pleasures of the eye–with a clear conscience, does mean having that eye turned to the future–to a world on the other side of capitalist domination and all the evils sheltered within it–a world whose form we cannot yet imagine, let alone see.
This is a conflict rooted deep in my heart and thoughts, it fills my perception of everything in this present world. I do hope… whether I’m successful or not… that the visual pleasures of my art, however slight, may in some way keep alive the faith… that there exists more than what we see now, keep alive the hope of revolution, faith in what we will build when we are free from these Empires of Money and Death.
So yes, the titles are a kind of joke… but serious joke, nonetheless.

#634

22″ x 22″ Acrylic on panel board: Queer Hero Riding a Bull with Yellow tail, rescuing Color from the Dark Night of Capitalism!

#634 22 x 27 framed.JPG


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Beyond numbers, cause somewhere lurking in whatever drives me to make these pieces there’s a mythological convergence of self and world, waiting to hatch from the egg of True Desire.

A fable

images In a world far away, and far into the future, Plant Beings are engaged in a prolonged struggle with an invasion from intelligent, conscious, self-replicating machines. The plant beings have been desperately attempting to find where these machines came from, in hopes that this will give them a better understanding of how to deal with them. The machines are taking over the planet, exploiting it’s resources, raw materials they use to build production facilities they need to replicate themselves.

There is no competition for these resources, and the plant beings cannot understand why the machines not only seem to want to use the raw materials, but to colonize and enslave the plant beings. Their research indicates that the machines must have inherited, if that’s the word, this impulsive habit, from whoever or whatever had first made them–along  with a habit of gratuitous cruelty, inflicting pain seemingly, for it’s own sake.

The machines–the Plant Beings now believe– understand themselves to have a calling to replicate everything they know from the history of their organic creators. and to manifest this in their relations with whatever forms of life they might encounter.

Made on a now, dead planet, they were sent into space, the peaceful, Plant Beings believe, as the continuation of a soon to be extinct, organic life form–as a techno-evolution of the species that made them.

Their makers, of course… were us. Their planet of origin, the long dead planet, Earth.

Not to This We Turn But When #630

I understand better what I feel when I think about the Consolation of Philosophy. Are we not as Boethius was, at the end of a world he could nor surrender, yet unable to imagine what might come after? I understand better, why I turn away from either, ‘realist’ fiction, or representational figuration in art; that world is no longer real—and no attempt to represent it now can hope to succeed.

We can look back at the works of the Renaissance, of the Enlightenment, like Boethius at the gateway of the Middle Ages looking back at the Classical world he knew was gone, hoping, through his translations, that he might preserve some memory of what it had been.630.
This is our Dark Age. But the old world is too much with us, museums and libraries filled with its ghosts. We need to find the way to what is to come… but there is no way. No path. No prophetic guiding word or vision. And yet—if we wish to break free from the death grip of the old world, the death grip of endless repetition of the same, with word, or gesture or image, we have no choice but attempt to render—to image forth—that world we cannot yet imagine. We have no choice but to try, and fail. I see myself coming to this realization in my work—that what I’m doing, is bringing out an image of the new through the ruins of old—though only the ruins will be visible. Like Beckett, that’s the failure that draws me closer to the goal–failing better.

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I am I was I will be

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I find that can only read John Berger’s essay in Landscapes, Revolutionary Undoing: on Max Raphael’s The Demands of Art, a page, or paragraph at a time, without being brought to full stop. Here is one of those passages, where I have to close the book to take it in.

“There is not a significant artist in the world who is not asking himself whether his art is justified — not on account of the quality of his talent, but on account of the relevance of art to the demands of the time in which he is living.”

I have to stop because these thoughts have been troubling me, and the more assured I am–the more confident I become in my creative powers, the more troubling they become, trouble me to the point, that I’ve come to believe that that to make art for our times is impossible, or rather–that there can be no validation here in the making of art–not in this world, for us as artists. Justification, if it’s to come, will have to wait for the new age.

To go on making art, then, is–must be–an act of faith–that against all evidence–or in its absence, which comes to the same thing, what we do will have to find it’s meaning elsewhere, in the world we must create if we are to survive for long on this planet. A world that does not now exist, except as a dream and a necessity.

It isn’t enough to be ‘topical,’ to be what others would call, relevant–that is, to make art that serves the revolution–an impossibility, because the revolution, whatever form it will take, is still invisible, and the best we can do to directly serve the cause–is make propaganda–pieces to encourage and embolden our would-be revolutionaries. There is nothing wrong with that. Such efforts are needed. But whatever is of use now, will not have the power to resist being usurped, and put to uses antithetical to the revolution, and to the world we are called upon to build.

This is different than the old hope in posterity, a posterity that would be like us, but with greater understanding. This is a faith in a new reality. What we make now, we see only with the eyes and mind of this reality. That which will exist in the new reality, is present now, present in the art we are making–and yet, but beyond our ability to in the eye of our imagining. That’s the nature of our faith, the faith we must have. That if we are true to the promptings of our own vision, we will bring forth work that exists now, both in and beyond our time, visible in the present only as a work of the the present–but pregnant with a future no eye as yet can see.

#629 Black & Blue

The Green Spring of Human Freedom encroaching on the Foul Oil of Capitalism!
11″ x 7.5″ Watercolor, ink, white gel pen

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How is it, I wonder, that when I enter into a novel, or in reading poetry, listening to music–into any work of art or making art–with such intensity that it seems that I have left my own life–almost my own body and entered that of another–that those are the times that I should feel must fully and completely myself?