sunnuntai 11. maaliskuuta 2018


a statue of a body that is cut from its pedestal

This blog begun from my desire to write reviews of art exhibitions. I wanted to write in a way that would be honest to my experience. My rules were these: 1. not shying away from academic references since I like to read that stuff, while still striving to 2. use non-native, easily understood, sub-standard, non-rich English, 3. steering clear from personal descriptions of artists themselves, 4. always using they/them unless I knew that someone whose work I'd write about preferred otherwise, and 5. aiming to show how the political in art is very much in the presentation and experience of art, and less so in the content. 

But most importantly, I did and did not want to believe the artist. You try your best to understand their work but also look past the facade they've built. 

After I had written about a few shows (this has been my personal fave so far), I had ran out of steam. There's nothing to add, although I wasn't sure if I managed to say what I was after. 

Only thing left was to criticise the celebration of certain minds, cognitive capabilities, education, and bodies over others. But the more I thought about it (for example, criticising every show in a museum or a gallery in Helsinki based on who they want to, literally, show), the more inadequate I felt in putting it into words. 

But it wasn't just that. What happened was I had lost my interest in pointing the faults of the art world. Their fights are increasingly not mine, and their aims are so far apart from my targets that the risk of a fatal ricochet begun to run high.

Not that I'm out of that world: I am currently in Liverpool for a residency at FACT, and the artist duo I'm in, Biitsi, does shows and other things in galleries, museums, and so forth. But those spaces are simply my equivalent of an office, and people rarely care for their cubicle that much. I do love the people we've had the chance to work with, and feel gratitude for being able to work in the creative field (I don't differ between, say, graphic design and art), all of its problems notwithstanding.


The arguments I've made about art's failings could be directed towards the projects I'm involved in, as well. Basically, those failings consist of either representation of worldly problems to advance your career & look cool/clever, or claiming you have a universal right to do art that is uninviting for everyone else (you do, but why should we come see it?).

Art's also just work, albeit the kind I usually enjoy doing. But I don't feel any connection to people anymore just because they're artists, too, or work in the arts.

I used to, though. Having always been an anxious traveler who would shy away from any sort of interactions with basically anyone local, I found art spaces everywhere to be approachable. I'd ring the doorbell of a private apartment, because someone told me there's a show there, without the slightest sense of panic. 

Initially, I thought this was so because of a belonging to a tribe of artists, but later on it became evident I've witnessed the manifestation of the same-same logic of capitalism's global nature. The connection could've been anything.

Almost all of us live in the same consumerist world, unless or until we can't afford to be in it (anymore). The sort of connection I felt is not a sign you're carrying the torch for the History of Art, but a learned reflex that is being supplanted and tightly regulated by arts education, art writing, and other artists, just like any matter of taste (think of pop culture or subcultures) is prone to be, under our current way of the world.

This is connected to aforementioned pitfalls of contemporary art: its political quality is, for most parts, a show put on for other "active citizens", who are able to participate in these showings that usually refer to the troubles of those who can't be there, save for when they've been transported by an art institution for the photo-op at the opening. The connection I described is mostly a sign of shared class position, or of both you and your art world peer having access to the same cultural capital. This issue is way multifaceted than this but anywaysssssssss

There are exceptions (and things does not have to be perfect to be effective -messiness is a given). All of the expectations I know of seem to treat art as a highly practical-yet-potentially-poetic-as-life-truly-can-be instrument for change, not as your art-degree backed chance to drain the energy from others to shed light on your personality and thinking. Which is what I've done for most parts, and so has literally every artist I am aware of in my circles, let's stop lying hooray!


It wasn't only the secret handshake between artists when visiting art venues in foreign cities I had lost. It was also the connections back home that got disconnected. Or more precisely, it's not art that connects me to other artists anymore: it is other things in life. Showing my sympathies feels forced for art-related struggles, as in whether a gallery receives support to keep running things exactly like they've always done, or if a sea-themed biennale happens or doesn't.

Saying this probably just alienates me even more from you. Those who want to think of me as a self-absorbed twat can surely read this in a way that serves that purpose, while those who project their faltering hope on my supposedly offhand remarks might interpret my words so as to encourage them to continue fighting the lost (?) cause. 

I love everyone nevertheless (aside from the ones I hate), and I am not trying to say please don't talk to me. Quite the opposite, I want to encourage us to look beyond the need to represent a professional face and instead talk about, I dunno, "money and blood", to quote Grace Paley, or feelings, to quote most of the people I relate to. 

And I still love art, too. It will take a while before I manage to reconfigure it, but in the meantime, I keep doing it, ditto. There is no stop button, unless you can afford one. 

I might not be coming to see your show, and I would never ever feel hurt, not in the slightest, if you wouldn't come and see mine. But if you need help setting it up, or with something else, I'm (more) interested.

P.S. I asked someone "so what do you do" a few weeks ago and I still regret it so much. If you're reading this, please accept my apology. The situation caused me to panic and then overcompensate by talking too much.

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