imomus (imomus) wrote,

Jealous of artists

I'm jealous of artists.

I'm jealous of artists especially when a shiny new copy of ARTFORUM arrives. I flick through the pages looking at the ads.

It's important to be jealous, without rejecting. Jealous and full of desire.

I remember feeling this way when I read the New Musical Express in about 1980. "Who's got a new album out?" has become "Who's got a new show?"

I'm jealous of Dash Snow because he's young and cool and apparently has a lot of money in the family. He probably gets lots of sex.

I'm jealous of the Chapman Brothers because they get away with being so perverse. Hey, look, they have a new collaboration with Paul McCarthy!

I'm jealous of Paul McCarthy because he gets away with being even more perverse than the Chapmans do. And look, now he's giving his son equal billing! Maybe his son will continue after he's dead (because McCarthy's a cute, wizened little old man now, he can't have long), doing exactly the same sort of work. It could become a family dynasty of slithering shit and paint and blood.

If Paul McCarthy is Paul McCartney on the sleeve of "Meet the Artists / Beatles", is Jake George, and Dinos John, and George Condo Ringo?

I'm jealous of Thomas Hirschhorn in this video for his clever motto "Energy, yes, quality, no".

I'm jealous of Justin Lieberman for having the good idea of staging a one-man advertising agency in the Zach Feuer Gallery. I wish I'd thought of that!

I'm jealous of Makoto Aida for getting to play a lazy, compromised Bin Laden in a video, and getting into the MoCA's Out of the Ordinary: New Video from Japan, which is the stuff I've been calling Supereveryday.

I'm jealous of the super-elite art tribe who ride the global flow from one biennial to the next.

And I'm ultimately jealous of the fact that our society has evolved to such a level that we indulge people as if they were children, and let them act out the whims and games of children in public, and pay them for it. It seems that being an artist -- in the West, or in China -- is the ultimate evolutionary point of the individual. Perhaps it's a point we'll recede from as times get tougher later this century, but a world without these selfish, clever, silly children isn't a better one.

I certainly don't agree with Dr Louis Wolpert in this BBC programme about C.P. Snow's Two Cultures that science simply requires higher intellectual standards than art. I do, though, think there are still two cultures, art and science, and that they really don't understand each other's contexts.

You have to understand that jealousy is a big part of my modus operandi. Jealousy without resentment. I "advance by appetite". I "admire and exoticize the Other". I try to make myself like that admired other, knowing that the mission is surely doomed to failure, but knowing also that in that failure is my possibility of happiness. Because a man advancing towards his dream, but never quite reaching it -- and not really expecting to -- is a happy man.

The crazy thing is, though, that something is happening alongside my jealousy of artists -- parallel, but not really affected by it -- which is that some people are saying I am an artist.

This month Phaidon is publishing Ice Cream, the latest in their regular series of books singling out "100 of the world's top emerging artists selected by 10 esteemed curators". And, thanks to Philippe Vergne, who put me in the Whitney last year, I'm one of them!

"Each curator has selected 10 important new artists," says the blurb, "who have either emerged internationally over the past five years, or are still relatively unknown. Their definition of emerged means that an artist has had solo shows, but nothing large-scale in a major institution (apart from a couple recent exceptions), has been reviewed in the international art press, but not been the subject of a major monograph, and has been given sufficient exposure without yet becoming fully established."

Could that be me? No, it's obvious that I'm a songwriter-turned-journalist who merely finds the art world very glamorous. I have no visual practice at all -- I wish I did, I'd love to stick pieces of paper onto an ariel photograph of a city, like Joana Hadjithomas does in that ARTFORUM ad. I love the visual, I just don't do the visual. What I do is I talk, sometimes in art galleries.

I know real artists who'd be absolutely furious at my inclusion in Ice Cream, this piece of leapfrogging. Artists who went to art school, who work in paint or bronze. They feel what I feel -- that they're real artists and I'm not. That I haven't paid my dues. That my elevation in the art world has come for all the wrong reasons -- that I somehow managed to meet the right people, because I was some kind of minor celebrity, and get into their address books.

But at the same time, as an artist without prices, I don't participate at all in the thing that many people would say makes the art world both real and evil -- the money.

"Look at this diagram of the art world," says Jerry Saltz. "You know what's missing?"

There are artists, collectors and institutions. What's missing is Jerry. What's missing is the art critic. And it's missing because there's no money in art criticism. "There's none of this" (Jerry draws a dollar sign) "in our thing". Things are only real (and evil) when there's money attached.

I won't be a real (and evil) artist until I have prices. So until then I can keep being pleasantly jealous of artists. And we can all relax, cool as ice cream.

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