Why do we even do this art shit anyway?
Reno Art Works hosted a showing of some Vegas artists over the weekend. I say showING because it was more a verb, as in performance.
I’ll start by telling you about the Promethian guy.
This tall, stripped, masked man armed with a shovel and a jock strap–whistle in his mouth and cleats on his feet–engaged himself in moving shovels full of dirt all night long from his pick up parked just outside RAW’s roll up front door, up the narrow wooden stairs at RAW. He had to continually navigate the small crowd of onlookers, tooting his whistle, dragging his shovel between loads, all this while trying to stay upright as his plastic cleats kept slipping on the pavement and spilt sand. (I’m not sure if he meant for the slippage to happen–I’m guessing no.)
Up the stairs, you’d find his big pile of deposited sand. Sandwhich bags full of the sand were for sale, $2.50, with a sign: “A little piece of Paradise”. (I’m guessing the dirt came from a site on Paradise Blvd. in Vegas–Maybe I’m wrong).
I’ve gotta’ mention the artists this act reminded me of. First off, as previously mentioned, there’s the Greek tragic anti-hero Prometheus: why do we do the senseless shit we do? Something else this artist, Michael Barrett, likes to do is push big ass tires up Lombard Street in San Francisco.
But I’m also reminded of Matthew Barney, whose physicality in his performances was central to his rock-climber-drawing-on-the-wall thing. These performances were taxing on the body and belonged to a wider genre called Conceptual Art where you really didn’t have to see it to get it. Someone could write about these performances and you’d understand the intellectual significance of the act: Explain to me why this is notable.
Come to think of it, “Promethian” could really describe the whole genre of Conceptualism.
I saw some Barney wall drawings and some of those plastic fake rocks bolted to the wall for climbing at S.F.M.O.M.A. and it was absolutely un-astonishing. They were left behind at the museum from one of his performances because he’s super famous. The guy ended up with Icelandic rock star Bjork.
Marcel Duchamp, Godfather of Conceptual Art had a glass bulb made in Paris and called it “50 cc of Paris Air” and gave it to his friend and art collector Walter Arensberg. In case you don’t know, this is also the guy who bought a urinal in 1913, laid it horizontal and displayed it with the title “Fountain”.
Regarding the physicality, It’s not surprising Barrett, as soon as his truck was emptied, he jumped in it and retired to his motel room, allegedly at Circus Circus; I’m sure he was beat.
I did not buy a bag of his Paradise dirt; his fascination with jock straps freaks me out.