Thursday, August 1, 2019

In Response to: Exactly what is it about Capitalism that you don't like?

It was prompted by Jennifer Moon's bi-weekly Navel LA Assembly (Faction 3 of the Revolution: Redistributing Wealth). In my inability to put my finger on it, I feel like I made something that's not a poem, not an essay, but it captures something that feels true about this moment. But perhaps its vague because it's an on-going conversation*





Capitalist Americans are a greedy, competitive, excitable people. We want to be a part of all of the mixes of races and to have knowledge of the internet at our fingertips. Myself included, we want to experience absolute silence and to tell our friends about it later. We want a convenient protection from Others while we also think of generosity and abundance as a way to mark time. We want to be less depressed before we think about curbing pollution, and want to get rid of corporations if someone else has done enough research to explain how we can live without them.   We tend to use all of our emotions, our youth, our connections, our spirituality in a competitive capacity. We want art to be as pure as possible (not made for a quick buck) and as accessible as possible, specifically based on tools. We want answers in books, paths to happiness and optimism. We want to believe that we’re in the middle, and that we’re in control.

What bothers me about Capitalism is the fear of uselessness, the machismo, the promise of hope and unity (while trying to suppress other value systems, a constant vigilance to erase interconnectedness, death, sleep, responsibility, the absence of debt, peace, theory, history and ease) 

I feel Capitalism’s symptoms and I’m feeling nauseous. There is a co-morbidity of anxiety, addiction, numbness, and sometimes paralysis. It’s our newest deepest placebo, it’s demanding our attention right now.


* ...an on-going conversation... one in which I've always been interested to know the specifics of how and why people accept Capitalism as the best way forward, or if it is not the right focus for critique (perhaps one might suggest "wealth inequality" or "Neoliberalism" instead?), or if they think they've got a handle on it...

Monday, July 1, 2019

Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik with SoftCells presents - "3 domestic alterations"


~Two years ago when Agnes Bolt started her conceptual/curatorial program ‘SoftCells’, there was a lot of upheaval in her life. Some of it was self imposed; bold conclusive decisions made by intuitively listening to what her body was telling her, trying to figure out how to make things more no her own terms. But she couldn’t let these conflicts distance her from a practice she wanted to explore with other people, to keep it accessible, to feel more grounded.

She committed herself, and her body, to being ‘presented on or in relation to’ artwork as a curatorial model with some radically open stakes. In her words, specifically: “Where space and body intersect.”

So far, SoftCells has given Jules Gimbrone, David Horvitz, Danish collective ‘Age of Aquarius’ and more, the ability to bring the social contract, her public persona and her private biological traces to a public extreme. And as an affront to the well-cultivated Instagram image, she’s kindof saying ‘This here is a process and vulnerability is just the beginning. There’s a lovely space between really investing in ourselves and not taking ourselves too seriously.’ (My words, not necessarily hers)

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Open on a sunny Saturday, June 15th, Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik (JLK) created ‘3 domestic alterations’ in Bolt’s home saying to me that “he’s always wanted to make sculptures for a house”. Although not uncommon in L.A. as many homes double as studios as well as exhibition spaces, it graciously accepts the vulnerable conceit of SoftCells, playfully flipping the inside and outsides, making us aware of the body that protects, cleans and provides stasis to itself. The interventions make the house like a body, with a stylized hand-made eyelid facing the highway, a water capture contraption in the shower (requiring Bolt to bring grey water out front to the shrubs), and one of the shrubs has a microphone, like the ear, capturing the sounds of the ocean-like cars passing en masse.

The experience of the exhibition is comfortably associative in its use of live streamed video of Manhattan Beach visitors, waves and digital graininess, which seems to match up with the flowing outdoor audio. The speakers have prickly bits on them, which I found out came from JLK dragging them in the dirt until they were covered in black seeds which blend in an uncanny way.

And like all of my favorite exhibitions do, there are no labels to frame the artworks’ boundaries so my attention is heightened, poring over a rock collection, the shape of empty book shelves, the finger grease on a touchscreen device, books and even remnants of other artists artwork that were too inconspicuous to be needed to be moved… In these informal setups, either the artist or the curator, usually both, acknowledge each visitor and conversations meander between asking you how you’re doing, describing what experiments are still ongoing, and excusing oneself to greet another friend. I’ve been informed that there are still more experiments to come. The exhibition is open for viewing/a shower by appointment until July 14th.


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(other things I liked looking at, but are not actually part of JLK's installation)






Saturday, April 13, 2019

My proposal for the 1st annual ADHD (Time Blindness) Conference for ARTISTS!


Gilda Snowden once told me that if the average artist gets a Guggenheim after something like 10 attempts, we'd better get started. Below is the "Statement of Plans" which got me back into thinking seriously about what kind of art practice I'd want to commit to. So I'm happy to have gone through the process even though it was a long shot for not having made consistent artwork for the past few years, but alas I have 8 more applications to go, and I think it's really interesting to share a failed proposal.
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Here's to vulnerability! cheers!


 
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“The first annual Failure + ADHD conference”
is a project I am initiating as a form of alternative research that will bring together experts and artists in a format that, like in my artwork, holistically incorporates a clear message of appreciation and engagement into the structure of the event itself. The word “Failure” here is being used for its shock value, but it also makes sense to contrast the two terms where one is deceptively simple (You Lose) and the other, is a euphemism (I’m not trying to Lose, I just do).

I plan on developing the project over 2019 - 2021 and producing a new body of work that attempts to represent Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). I will partner with a professor at a local college or University in Los Angeles to share the logistics in putting on a conference that presents the latest research projects focusing on failure, but expressed in an accessible way where those with ADHD and similar disabilities can fully participate. Relying on existing networks I have made, new work and elements of the conference will draw from and be distributed to spaces that support artists from across Detroit, Glasgow and Los Angeles. This focus on how those with ADHD experience intense extremes, feelings of all-or-nothing and the reality of stopping altogether in the face of adversity, parallels economic extremes that we are seeing in wealth inequality in America and in the world. This is not a metaphor, but rather the activities that artists with ADHD take on, where often lives are made up of clever strategies for survival, they are a barometer for economic systems with particular demands of flexibility or failure placed on people not on situations.

But when work is reframed to empower and accept the limitations of those with ADHD, this reveals vigilance on the part of those with ADHD for alternatives that rely on external supports, many of which connect to the most critical and engaging radical movements of our time. This work follows my growing awareness that my coping strategies and the mental labor involved are often at the heart of my work with artist communities over the last 10 years and I am seeking support of the Guggenheim to not just produce new work, but to help me form a greater system that can continually support and challenge the work that I do for years to come.

There are two questions that I would like to present with these new works, which are controversial and personal: What is the relationship to ADHD and being an artist (using my own practice as a starting point)? And could ADHD symptoms illuminate and even confront Capitalism, where those with the disorder who fail to meet its demands find solidarity?

The lead researcher on ADHD is Dr. Russell Barkley. He says that the label itself is a misnomer and should be renamed either Time-Blindness or Intention Deficit Disorder. His research is fodder for philosophical questions that challenge our notions about free will, mental health, incentives, and how we identify/treat illness.

This conference that I envision is made up of two concurrent conferences under one roof titled: “Failure + ADHD”, where research and presentations on failure take place next to an unconventional conference that brings together artists with ADHD to share their experiences with one another, but the structures and format of the presentations would accommodate those with special needs. One example of this is that presentations would be more visual and hands-on, rely less on passive lecturing over long stretches of time, and also presenters would give the same presentation twice.

Even Dr. Barkley’s research is only presented as either a two-hour long video specifically for the parents of children with ADHD, or 1” thick books for adults, which are actually inaccessible to those who the information is about. This event would become a platform for those that successfully can express anything from professional development to taxes in the form of comic books, short films and other media, breaking through the barriers of attention and self-motivation that simply are not prioritized by people not affected by this handicap. Dr. Barkley uses the research and data to point out the stakes of these kinds of decisions: “We don’t say to someone in a wheelchair, after 30 days of successful use of the wheelchair ramp, it will be removed.”

I would also use the time to travel to other countries, locating and meeting people who may be able to speak of how ADHD is regarded and how it is handled in different cultures respectively, if there is a different name or treatment for it, or if the symptoms themselves throw up less of a stark contrast because one culture can accommodate it. Specifically, chrononormativity-- or the Eurocentric hegemony over our concept of time-- may be easier to challenge using models outside of hyper capitalist American culture.

The work by authors like
Johanna Hedva (Sick Woman Theory) depicting chronic illness as a form of intentional or unintentional protest,
Fred Moten (the Undercommons) advocating for informal self-organization from within oppressive institutions,
and Jeffrey Vallance (The 20 principles of infiltration) emphasizing sincerity and close proximity with what you want to critique, all provide very generous accounts of making space for alternative ways of being. Their work will be the grounding for an ADHD discussion group in Los Angeles.

This project will be a continuation of the organizing and artwork I’ve done for the past decade, all of which focused on analyzing and contesting inequality in it’s various iterations. Most similar to the conference is my international project  ”Over Over Over” (2014 - 2019), which is an independent model of artist exchange connecting artist-run spaces to radical thinkers from two post-industrial cities, Detroit and Glasgow. By facilitating art projects, public group discussions and exhibitions that interrogate what it means to be an artist creating and sustaining one's practice in these highly mythologized cities, it prioritizes reflection within a widening community and it is structured to be able to facilitate mutual support amongst participating artists without them needing to fund it or without having to represent as model citizens with strings attached.

I’ve made conceptual sculptures, installations and video work for solo exhibitions, some can be tied to ADHD, but all pertain to exploring something I struggle with. In a video piece, “Drum Driving”, I risk my safety in order to squeeze in time to make art at the same time that I am doing a long commute, it reminds audiences that sometimes making work can be a physical risk to artists and that sometimes the damage done through labor is damage done to the self.

Because of my disability, I often must rely on a network of intellectuals who can take in information in ways that I cannot in order to be a part of a larger discussion about art and labor. At the same time, I never take the usual art conventions for granted and I always find a way to challenge the usual passive consumption of art. For example, in a solo show at UCLA on the invitation of an art & activist student group, visitors were greeted with parts to walls laid out, but no instructions. In this free-for-all workshop-as-opening, curious students worked with each other to use power tools for the first time, but they quickly learned about the necessity of working together against the bureaucracy of their own school. The space they were given to put on art shows was not conducive to any kind of experimentation because it was first and foremost a historic building, specifically a public hallway. When the students were told that everything had to be moved out because it was “not art”, this added to the tone for a month of programming I had already put together to celebrate the local resources for activism.

The research for these workshops in my solo show titled “Amateur Strategies” included meeting with Willem Henri Lucas (A graphic design professor at UCLA that also attempted to put up unsanctioned exhibitions on campus), the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (an independent archive of where art meets activism), and The Best Friends Learning Gang workshop titled “Lock Picking & DIY Pepper spray (A communal alternative study group put on by local artists Dan Bustillo and Joey Cannizzaro). I also scoured UCLA’s own archives of a history of activism on campus, which revealed massive gaps, and encouraged them to submit ephemera of their own activity in the Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter, and demonstrations against the high cost of tuition. I was even able to break down the merits of the project so that the students were able to successfully bid for student government funds, which injected $2,000 into their programming budget. Little did we know at the time how prescient this would be, solidifying their commitment to activism, being strategic and somewhat sneaky, making time and space for self-care, working as if we lived in the early days of a better society, as Trump was elected president six months. The students re-used the walls for various protests.

The exhibitions that I put on of Detroit artists in Glasgow and Glasgow-based artist in Detroit did successfully raise over $30,000, but for the most part they were traditional presentations of work comparatively to my personal artwork. As much as I made efforts to have a wide representation of gender, race and class, I feel that the project is incomplete because even with having ADHD myself, I hadn’t tailored any of the presentation formats to account for neurodiversity.

About 4 - 5% of the population has ADHD and I am looking at a subsection of that have gone into the arts. I have already begun some preliminary research into artists with ADHD. When I took a poll of people to see if they can see signs of ADHD in their work, or if it contributes to their creative work in any way, the responses went against assumptions I had that people went into art because it was more forgiving and it could be more on one’s own terms. Often, the overwhelming self-management tasks overshadowed other beliefs such as the necessity for hyperfocus, or being an empath. Dr. Barkley says that those who do good work, do it despite having ADHD, not because of it, but YouTube channels such as “How to ADHD” devote a good amount of time to note aspects that seem like special powers, quirks worth appreciating, and both can be right.

Amongst the few respondents that have worked for years on being as self-aware as possible, they lamented the lack of research and useful resources for adults with ADHD, and that they have had to figure everything out on their own in a complex story of failure, devastation and self-moderation. I often work with other artists and pride myself on bringing them into a fold of a different way of thinking and working, helping others see the possibility of what I imagine work to be, and how work can be redefined to address salient local and cultural topics.

Creating better models for ADHD theories of the mind could very well help to diagnose people correctly, to get more precise and accurate assistance, to develop individualized plans, to achieve long term goals, but perhaps now that I’ve made a career out of mischievousness, camaraderie, infiltration and high expectations, I’m hooked and I can’t go back. As my best teachers have worked so hard to instill in me, I know the joy of mastery, I can tap into shared knowledge, I know when to trust and not trust my thoughts, I know that when I have the freedom to do something, I don’t take it for granted. This period of time is crucial to be able to fully embark upon alternative forms of research where the conference is just a starting point. I hope to work with your organization, as it would be a privilege to gain such a reputable position. It would mean that I would be able to work with some of the most influential people on research about ADHD, and raise awareness by exciting, experimental means, which probably would not be taken as seriously otherwise. I seek your help to broaden our collective imagination for meaningful work that otherwise is precarious. Thank you in advance for your consideration.




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I was pretty frustrated when no ideas came to me when I decided I needed to apply even if I didn't feel like it. I started listing everything that would most likely make it a competitive application that also felt like insurmountable obstacles. But as I kept going, and the list felt more and more absurd to me, the whole thing turned out to be really cathartic even with my super sarcastic negativity. So I recommend vomitting out all of the "Shoulds" you can think of, kindof like a Fuck It list. Somehow, I brainstormed my way right through it.

Good luck everyone with their applications if you're working on one right now!




Also I actually have attempted this "Intention Deficit Disorder Conference for Artists", the first involved infiltrating another conference to present my idea. The second was suggested by a friend Christina, that it should start with a hike (exercise) as well as eating some kind of protein so we can get our heads sorted before launching into it. There's been two hikes so far and it's felt great, so if this interests you feel free to reach out. At the moment it takes place at 8 am starting at Ernest E. Debs Park every other Tuesday, Thursday, or possibly on a weekend, or possibly in the evening. We're feeling it out at the moment.

I'm excited to be working on little projects again, including Joey, Rachel and I embarking on a Psychomagic curriculum that first involved following the color violet for a day, and now we've perscribed ourselves a theatrical act, so I hope to have some kind of update on that project soon in the near future. Or, join us for that too!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Is Adrian Piper like me? Someone with ADHD? (footnotes after the jump)



'Think About It' (1987) Mock-up for billboard design, Rephotographed newspaper images, transparent foil, text, and watercolor.
'Vanilla Nightmares #12' above 'Vanilla Nightmares #6' (1986) 
'Portrait' (1983)


I made it to the last day of Adrian Piper: Concepts and Intuitions, 1965-2016 at the Hammer. This is an artist who I've always wanted to know more about ever since I learned about this club called Conceptual Art. In 2004 or so I was vaguely introduced to her piece 'Funk Lessons' presented in some quick, semi-contextless lecture in a studio class with other short art films which I'm pretty sure were Pipilotti Rist, and Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (which I definitely remember falling asleep to while watching). They all came across as 'classics', but of all of those artists presented, Adrian Piper’s piece stuck with me because of its cutting sense of humor and I felt like there was a sense of urgency that there needed to be more work like it. The short clip I saw was immaculately edited, and it felt bootlegged. I couldn't get my head around the piece, but I loved it. Was she being sincere? Was it "ethnographic"? Were the workshop participants in on how she was using dance (and other strategies) as a disarming way to bring up racial politics?
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How can this work have so many implications(1), and yet it seems to be universally lauded as work that art students need to see?.
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For other artists reading this, where were you when you first came across the words "W H I T E    P E O P L E    C A N ' T    D A N C E" emerging and blinking slowly across the bottom of that video piece? It's quite audacious to combine racial politics, leisure and intellectualism (philosophy), but she speaks with such authority that it makes sense to follow along without questioning it. Or conversely, one starts questioning everything, or at least do a double-take; this is a principal feature to her work. 
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Now that I think about it, I was introduced to 'My Calling (Card) #1' at the same time, the ones that said, "DO NOT TOUCH, TAP, PAT, STROKE, PROD, PINCH, POKE, GROPE OR GRAB ME.” (On the back it also read in German, FASSEN SIE MICH NICHT AN.) This discrete interjection was not just the most direct strategy I’ve ever seen in an art piece, but even in life, I couldn’t think of anything that was so readily available to be clear about boundaries, showing others how this is done, and nodding to a greater politics behind all of that. For anyone who sees this card in a gallery you know that you’re not suppose to just talk about it as a passive work in a gallery, admiring the font or something, but you can easily imagine it being used and somehow know without any need for documentation, that it had already been used. Another stack also included the infamous card: "Dear Friend, I am black. I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that racist remark... ...I regret any discomfort my presence is causing you, just as I am sure you regret the discomfort your racism is causing me.” 

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Here was proof that art wasn’t just an interpretation or reflection of life, but it was agency of a kind. And it wasn’t just ideas that could float around without consequence, or to be debated in the wider sphere of critics, it was about strategies, and considering how to get through to an audience, not just what I thought should exist for its own sake.



 

This work was kindof near those business cards, I think it was an enclosed film-cannister like space with four light-box photos and audio headsets titled 'Four Intruders Plus Alarm Systems'.
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I was this 19-year-old sponge at a state school in Michigan and just from the documentation of Piper's work, I felt like I was in the presence of 'Real Contemporary Art' and I wanted to make work that was just as provoking and considered as those works.
For someone like myself who saw Art as an adventure for the mind and hopefully my life, this work made me think about the joy (and a brilliant dry humor) in clarity.

.I think I tried to look up more of her work online but I don’t think I understood how to look for it. What I came across was a wash of white walls, a NY/Berlin gallery aesthetic that felt clean, in conversation with other NY artists, produced for sophisticated gallery goers. (I also admittedly didn't fully investigate, who is this artist? where does the work come from?) 
I recall thinking that I’d just have to revisit her work and then I started to gravitate to artists who made pleasurable looking forms which alluded to deeper undertones such as Robert Gober, Louise Bourgiois, Ray Johnston, Bjork, Glenn Ligon, Judy Pfaff, Sarah Sze and Dana Schutz to name a slew.

The most exposure I got to an experimental practice was through watching PBS’ Art 21 and what was showing at major museums. I wasn’t hip enough to be into
Jason Rhoades, Kippenberger, Yvonne Rainer, Jim Shaw, French New Wave Cinema, Ursula K. Le Guin, Andrea Zittel or Douglas Gordon.

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For anyone that does know my work, I find it amazing that when I had a chance to debut work outside of my undergraduate environment in Detroit, sans assignments, it seemed like my first work was informed more by her work than any of the other artists I’ve mentioned.
For an installation at Detroit Industrial Projects called "Projections" (2009), Materials: Vinyl lettering, projector, plastic sheeting, white paint, transparency roll and a print out of a NYT op-ed article by Charles M. Blow.Visitors were presented with a blank projection which they rightly assumed they could write their responses to the phrase "black people are less racist than white people" to be displayed pubicly next to the work. These comments would be projected on a clear surface that had been painted white. The conversation of what was being written became archived as the acetate was on rollers. Written responses ranged from inflammatory to flummoxed.

.More amazing still is how it had all of these elements similar to Adrian Piper works:
  • a single line of provocative text
  • Inserting literal news articles as excerpts
  • Inviting people to participate and see all comments from other visitors,
  • bringing to light an inability for most Americans to deal with the complexity/baggage of race and privilege. (also, a literal light source that lights up a screen)
and yet I hadn't seen those particular pieces of hers until this exhibition in 2018!
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It was rare for me to come across any of her work in person, except on one occasion at Hamza Walker’s 'Black is Black Ain’t' that came to MOCAD, but otherwise I was only able to see her seven-part sculptural series 'What It's Like, What It Is #2' (1991) or 'The Big Four Oh' (1988) as images online. So I was a bit disappointed when I couldn’t find these pieces at the Hammer Museum and instead I felt blocked in  almost entirely by wall pieces, impressive text and grids, not unlike seeing Charles Gaines logic-based works that had been in the Hammer previously. 
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I kept thinking to myself though, why does the "early” work that gets presented feel like it has to convey PROLIFIC with a certain level of awareness, as if to suggest that art (and every piece leading to a masterpiece) is such serious work? To me, all of the systematic approaches stripped out personal politics to the point where this work could have disappeared amongst other logic-based art of the time, if one didn't read the details. Work felt presented in a default  linear way (as if the artist was dead) where wall texts created a separate portrait from the actual artworks, one of an artist who doggedly brought together ideas and praxis.
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The analytical aspects of some of this work and all of the writing is probably important but it was not something I could indulge in since I only gave myself about two and a half hours to take in the whole exhibition. I’m sure that part of the dense reading is about Philosophy, (specifically Kant,) and even a trajectory that was aware of its higher calling: to be presented in museums for the public rather than private collections. I don't like this immature position I default to when faced with so much banal density that I impatiently want to rush past the archive-ish stuff to get to the meaty bits, so to speak. I’m trained somehow to look for an institutional glimpse of the small moment in their practice when it all clicked. 
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Where did this tendency to look for the narrative of 'the genius' come from? 
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I remember when I asked one of my professors in my senior year of college: what is the greatest aspiration of being an artist? (We could tell that she had favorites and they were not the students who made other plans other than being a full-time artist) My professor's candid reply to us all was this: if it's good maybe it might get purchased by a major museum.
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The curatorial labels suggest that Piper's big breakthroughs could be detected in an early piece where she documented herself being blindfolded and she walked around a well-known artist hangout, or maybe it was when she took ads out in the Village Voice wearing drag as the 'Mythic Being'. But I feel like I've missed something. How did she make the leap from her earlier body of work that was pretty niche with its avant-garde art codes, structure-based process and racially charged pointedness to being able to still cover the SAME ground, but with this casually otherworldly video, 'Funk Lessons'?
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Two early conceptual sketches that are about the essence of the mark making material itself, not an illustration of something. From the series 'Drawings about Paper and Writings About Words #???'
Work either made while tripping on LSD, or maybe it's just titled that, probably not a big difference either way.
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I think I would've really enjoyed being a K-12 educator right at that moment, leading a challenging field-trip through this exhibition. Perhaps the students would reflect that the importance of mind altering drugs was only equal to the ability to immaculately keep a sketchbook. Or more likely, I imagine having to explain why students ended up saying that the art teacher was inciting violence or that 'drugs are great for inspiration!' to the administrators/concerned parents...

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And to that point about being a good student of contemporary art, I can only imagine her subconscious influence on scores of other successful contemporary artists, i.e. the autobiographic content and aesthetics of the typewriter in early work by Frances Stark, the aestheticized viewing of a sub-culture seen through dance in Mark Leckey’s 1999 video 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore', any meta artwork that comments on a viewer looking at work becoming uncomfortable and self-aware, any visual artists who decided to pursue a PHD... 
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'An Open Letter to Donald Kuspit (Kuspit Strangulation Fantasy)' (1987)
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After finishing this part of Adrian Piper's exhibition there were 3 things that stood out, 3 thought provoking themes that I cherished the most:
  1. "Adrian Piper's 1989 photomontage 'Un-Mutter #8' juxtaposes two provocative images. Both are reproduced from mass circulation periodicals that the artist adjusted to the same size and grayscale gradient. On the left is Jeff Koons's Artforum advertisement for his 1988-9 exhibition, Banality; on the right is New York Times photojournalist Peter Turnley's picture of a malnourished Somali mother and her child. Turnley's somber family portrait seems especially jarring beside Koons's theatrical shot of himself as a schoolteacher indoctrinating a classroom full of American kindergarteners into his art." - Kimberly Bobier
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  1. I liked the subtle nods to education in 'Un-mutter #8', and what I think was a large 'fuck-you' to Jeff Koons shown as a Ken doll teaching little kids to be jaded, it was juxtaposed unapologetically with a forlorn woman holding onto a child with the intense text superimposed: “Fight or die”.  I like thinking about that piece and its relation to the four large chalkboards 'Everything #21' with the partially erased repetitive words "Everything will be taken away”. It reminds me about the  most important aspect of racism that we need to keep in mind, that it is learned. We think that it's just a natural bias because it's about forming an "Us" as a group and "Them" as a group, but more importantly, every part of bigotry is learned, which means that it can be unlearned, and that unlearning has its own set of pedagogy... maybe located somewhere between buddhism, anarchism, and feminism. It also reminds me of Emma Kemp’s mantra in an Earl Gravy piece that reads “DIE LIKE THE REST OF US. DIE LIKE THE REST OF US. DIE LIKE THE REST OF US.” next to images of ‘secret’ safe havens made for and by the ultra-rich.
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  2. I like how Adrian Piper has always implicated the gallery viewer in a way that channels her personal and candid reflections so that her perspective is understood as authentic and reasonable. Comparably, I think about the conversation opened up by the #MeToo movement and how it starts from a place of vulnerability on social media, and then it relies on a power of numbers as well as the right people to stop looking the other way. And I wonder about how the conversation can be a sustained society pushing critique: recognizing when mainstream politics are still complicit, extending beyond predators that hide behind a system of power by wading full-on into feminist politics, confronting capitalism/patriarchy while still being a matter of care and camaraderie. It only seems like two years ago, no artists coming into or out of a MFA wanted to pigeon-hole themselves as a feminist artist, now I hear about Sarah Ahmad's book "Living a Feminist Life" almost every day, and now no one (including myself) wants to be called a social practice artist.

    Piper always puts herself one step ahead and talks about being other-ed as she describes a sticking point within the Women’s movement (see the partially typed out text in the caption for 'Political Self-Portrait #1' below) 
     and she gives an account of the kind of friction that is too sorrowful to become a meme. She has quite a few works where she describes being friends with people and it is a core subject matter of the work, and probably is a large part of her identity. In 'Political Self-Portrait #1' in particular, (it's a bit difficult to read when in front of the kids faces) the text about the tenuousness of friendship is very well explained, and I can't think of another artwork that brings this kind of nuance to the table.


    "The only women friends I have with whom this has not happened are either lesbians, or straight women who have stable relationships with the same man for at least three years. When I am around these couples I cannot relax. I have to be very careful about how I look and act. I am impersonal, assertive, almost butch with the man. I try to be polite and genial, but also to exhibit a special lack of interest in him. I barely look at him, and make sure I do not appear to be listening too intently to whatever he has to say. I never address my remarks to him alone. I feel uncomfortable and resentful at having to go through these contortions. But it seems to be necessary in order to get the woman to trust me. For I see now that most of my women friends will probably always subordinate our friendship to their relationships with men in various ways, and this forces me to do the same. I see why it is that friendship with another woman is so important to me, yet so fragile. It is because we have not yet learned genuinely to trust one another, in spite of all that the women's movement has achieved."


  3. This is going to sound counter intuitive, but I like how bad one of her latest art pieces is: 'The Color Wheel Series' (2000); with its overly digital features, and opaque context definitely couched in a specific Indian culture. It's refreshing because however dis-congruous its color palette appears against any other works she has in the exhibition, (I think the hear no evil, so no evil, speak no evil appears in some other works) it just made me feel like she's willing to keep finding forms for her interests, which means she takes risks and they don't always work out.
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    I like that success for her means always being willing to try and to put the odd works in the same playing field as all of the other pieces. I think it's more bold than say... making things consistently abstract, which let's just get the critique out there... I like looking at art such as Math Bass’ (whose wall installation is the first thing you see when walking into the Hammer in the lobby) or Laura Owens paintings, but these works seem off limits for them to be examined in the same critical way, since they don’t promise very much. The content on their canvas shy away from potential controversy, and I believe it's a symptom of the kind of non-risk art that is made when there is less public funding for the arts. It's prevalence shows how well it competes with other artwork for visibility in a marketplace that demands work to be internet/consumption/investment-ready. Unfortunately it really doesn't add anything to a conversation about feeling disillusioned or alienated by contemporary art.
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    .Adrian Piper really likes being in the flow of making her work, and she really considers the viewer, frames our discomfort, complicates defining the gray areas, and relentlessly reminds us of all of the ways that sometimes we fail (where there's no good reason for not being better, or being more self-conscious.)




I ended my time at the Hammer Museum by sitting down and watching an interview with Adrian Piper on the ground floor and I had a revelation that I cannot un... connect-the-dots. (Much of the above was also further solidified by hearing her in her own words describe her practice.) There was a point when she was explaining Immanuel Kant where I became worried I was just going to tune out, in the same way that I did after reading the first chapter of her memoir when it starts going into the baggage of all the ways that Wellesley College drained her life. It’s a tough read.
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Adrian Piper was answering a question fielded to her, "What is Time?” She went into the intricacies of Immanuel Kant's conception of how we unconsciously create a conception of continuity that we call time. This switched a little light on my head because of something that Dr. Russell Barkley calls “Time-blindness” or ADHD(2). As she continued to speak about how time seems to allude her especially in terms of making art and forgetting to do things such as brushing her teeth, she was going into something that I think goes beyond her work on self-awareness. When she was describing how her life is punctuated by unfortunate requirements of life (chores, her professional responsibilities) she described a wish that she could do away with it all, those things that keep her from being in a constant creative state of flow, where time stops.
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I am not a doctor and am not attempting to diagnose, but I keep reading into the work and what she says about it with the filter of someone who has Time-blindness and I want to posit the possibility that if Adrain Piper had Time-blindness that it’s another opportunity to explore and connect parts of her work to her life, not to pass judgements whether it meant that a certain outcome was good or bad. I’m just so curious about something that has dictated a great deal of my life more than I could have imagined and from what we know about it, it has very complex implications(3), just like some good Adrian Piper Art. Also, I will definetely be going into a whole separate discussion about Time-blindness (ADHD) more(4), but I hope that this actually very theoretical claim may bring a very interesting context to Adrian Piper‘s output. 

Maybe consider this writing more as fan fiction than conjecture?
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Also, how absurd would that look to "out" someone with a disability?
"Well would you look at that? Isn't that the politician who voted against the disabilities act of 1990... he's about to get into the car in the handicap spot! Look at that weasel, look at how he's leaning real heavy on his aides so it doesn't look like he need a wheelchair! That's pretty disgusting. This man is out in public all limp legged, can't even walk on his own, and he's sending young kinds to straight-back conversion therapy. We gotta tweet this! #LizardChiropractorPeople"
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I don’t believe Time-blindness necessarily leads to producing any specific quality of an artwork, those with ADHD are not a homogenous group, but I may be attracted to the kinds of tendencies fostered by someone with Intention-deficit disorder. I guess this is about camaraderie, what it means to recognize a quality or feel like I’m in a greater conversation with inspiring artists.
By talking about what I believe are patterns that emerge from what I can see and hear about her work, by extension it also gives me a chance to open up more about my own experiences and maybe even if she doesn’t have Time-blindness, I’d like to propose that this may be work that an artist with ADHD may find particularly moving because there’s something familiar about her decisions that is only ever referred to as an ‘otherness’, and I don't think we should be so quick to equate that sentiment with only race or gender. 
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Ok, and for the uninitiated, what is Time-blindness a.k.a. Intention-Deficit Disorder a.k.a. ADHD? I think this clip illustrates what I would like to get across about it rather than to have you watch a 2-hour video by Dr. Russell Barkley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=574&v=wGCZrq93pyg




Here's the clues that I kept connecting, where I have definetely felt exactly the same:
  • She described that yoga was one of the only ways that gloriously calmed the incessant thoughts in her mind. I believe she did a hilarious impression of a chipmunk chattering to prove her point? I wrote a whole blog post about what yoga seemed to do for my ADHD.
  • She described time philosophically, as a drag. Chores were a drag and at one point she admits to all the things she forgets to do when in the midst of being compelled to will art into existence, but also she wondered aloud why can't she just be left alone to do things at her own pace? She'd be creative all the time otherwise! 
  • In one of the works I mentioned, Political Self-Portrait #1, the first passages are evidence that in her childhood moments are marked by the struggle to keep 'best friends' and there is an intensity with thinking about and describing the relationships.
  • Work that shows a high amount of pre-determined organizational systems, and sometimes that information is also paired/contrasted with elements of fear, fear of being lost, making the strain apparent in trying to be as clear as possible about the feeling of conflict.
  • When something interests her, she doggedly analyzes it, especially with others. From her memoir "Escape to Berlin”: she “behaved uncontrollably […] raising my hand every five minutes in every class meeting to innocently request clarification […] dumbfounding my instructors.”
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    Then there are the things that are less... clinical symptoms let's say...
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  • She's really funny. 
  • She has this common theme of being acutely aware of being on the outside, but it didn't always come down to race or gender...
  • A super nuanced attention to how one presents oneself
  • Super dense texts (which may be hyper-focus? but it reminds me of notes I've written just after taking Adderall)
  • In some of her works she kind of presents to the viewer many bits of information that I believe are meant to be overwhelming, perhaps to illustrate a way she experiences the world.
  • She conformed her entire work environment (by leaving the US) so that her work schedule would be as ideal as possible to how she finds herself functioning the best.
  • She couldn't be satisfied with just one focus, she had to do art AND philosophy equally in great depth.
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This works is for no good reason missing from the MOMA catalog! It's an important relational piece: 'I Am Some Body, The Body of My Friends #1-18' (1992-95)

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I also think it's interesting then to think about how she talks about her difficulty with the administration at Wellesley, and ultimately her quitting. I wonder how much of it may have to do with Time-blindness, and at the same time, I don't think it's crazy to imagine that another professor also with Time-blindness, perhaps lighter skinned, perhaps having some male privileges of not coming off as difficult, and perhaps they may find it easier to ask for more time off for their projects, get excused for their lapses or strong will, it's somehow expected that people fill in for them... I'm just saying that for those with Time-blindness, jobs don't have to accommodate the work place for a brain that works differently (it's merely a recommendation to the manager), and it can be both systematic racism, and an inability to adhere to a disinteresting structure that makes a situation untenable.

(update: As an example of certain institutional preferences where misogyny is both subtle and kindof not... Adrian Piper's retrospective meant to come to Haus Der Kunst has been cancelled and will be filled in by an older white painter from Germany. I think Adrian Piper should let some of her works continue to be shown just outside of that space as a kind of protest. One of the things I wanted to say earlier when I was describing how rare it was for me to come across her work, was that I wish her work was shown more often with works from other artists made around this same period so that her choices in contrast to other people's choices could be felt even more. This isn't to say that work should be put in competition with each other, but I think that good work continues to do its work when its context, say of otherness, is echo'd all around it. Et Tu Germany?)