15 October 2006
hi Ed, happy birthday!! your page is ready for you to begin using it. perhaps you can start by giving a brief account of what you are doing for Very Real Time 2, and why. and then, if you'll permit, I think it would be nice also if people can post you questions and remarks. for example, as it's your birthday, Zoé would like to ask what was your first memory of being alive.
16 October 2006
To answer Zoé's question I would like to quote little Oscar in ‘The Tin Drum':
“I first saw the light of this world in the form of a 60 watt light bulb.”
And in-between my birth and now I can't really remember much.
Fuck. I really struggled to get out of bed today. It was a wild weekend. I think I have a mild case of alcohol poisoning. Having one more beer to kill the pain. Ok. Let's start.
I am doing a project for Gregg Smiths Very Real Time residency. I am one of six artists, and happen to be the only South African Capetonian doing the project. This sucks a bit because the project happens to be in Cape Town. I think Gregg wants people to interact with the city and do a project inspired by interpersonal interactions and so on. The reason why I said this sucks is because all the other artists get to come here from far off lands and have a brand new experience. This is what I do everyday.
So while I almost made my brain explode to come up with a project, I came up with some really mediocre ones. Nothing really kicks ass. But, after some discussion I decided to just do what I do. My boring and perfectly mundane life. The good thing about this is that I can basically spend my production budget on beer and new jeans.
So this log will basically describe my process (and progress) for the duration of the residency. I will try and update it everyday. And if it bores the shit out of you then don't bother checking it out. Any questions or suggestions can be mailed to me at email@example.com . I will publish these on this page.
The work so far:
I had a show earlier this month called IT WAS ONLY A BLOWJOB. But this is not really important as it was not such a great exhibition. So I would think that my project probably kicked off officially this past weekend with my birthday party. It was a bit wild and I can't remember much. But it is ok. No one else that I spoke to could remember much either. I finally met the Mexicans on this project but all I remember is one single moustache. I suppose I will see them later today. Apparently it was one of those night were everyone snogged everyone else again. Like the good old L/B's lounge parties we used to have. I really miss them. But if you missed this one I will try and make another party towards the end of this project. Good clean fun. Random beatings, boobies, vomies, braais and tequila…
It wasn't random, he deserved it.
Dear Ed Young,
I am your biggest fan.
19 October 2006
I have been feeling a bit sick. I thought it was because I had alcohol poisoning. It turns out that I had a bug so I have not really written much. But just a quick update on my work. I have been sleeping a lot. And working in my studio.
On Monday night we all went to the Mount Nelson hotel for some drinks. The place is fucking colonial but in such a way that the residents don't even really notice. Was a bit weird, especially at ZAR 24 a beer. The good thing is that the other VRT artists finally started talking a bit more, I have a feeling it was after all the dancing that went down on Saturday night. So I have been working on my new projects for the residency, but they are all just starting. Built a studio over the weekend and it looks like a nice piece, beautiful corners and all. I also set up my playstation in the studio, the aim is to try and finish the new Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, by the end of the residency. I can only play at night though because I am projecting huge, with nice surround sound. But, I made myself a project for the day. I will start to paint. I got all the materials but I am still waiting for the canvasses. I had to by an extra one for Christian Nerf as I through his last one out the window onto the street because it was absolutely hideous. The problem now is that I cannot find any St. Joseph's lilies to paint. Seems to be no stock in town, but I have to learn painters patience if I am to complete this project.
I went to the opening at Blank last night. It was ok.
21 October 2006
I fixed my washing machine today. It took almost the whole day.
25 October 2006
Take it like a man
I’m feeling a bit let down by the lack of reaction to your project. One would expect at the least a grumbled accusation of ‘fiddling while Rome is burning’, prompting some kind of discourse and clarification of what it is you are addressing with your ‘project’. As I mentioned at the outset, this kind of provocation can only be worthwhile if it does go beyond just being a provocation. At present I have the uncomfortable feeling of having gotten mixed up in some kind of old white guard cronyism, smugly slapping each other on the back over the success of another corrupt indeavour.
Then there is the other problem that the other artists in vrt2 have become reluctant to get involved in anything you organise, reasoning that you have found the slightest of excuses not to get involved in anything they have organised, but then expecting others to fall in with your plans at a moments notice.
As you can imagine it feels awkward for me and I have to wonder if there weren’t more pleasurable ways to fritter away R14 000,00, than to give it to you as a salary and project budget. I have seriously considering firing you, in fact. Perhaps this would jolt some more thoughtful articulation of why what you are doing is worthwhile to anyone, including yourself. In that interest, I would like to put forward some points for your rumination. I would appreciate your input. Lack of response will be the last straw. I should add that your dismissal would also entail stripping you of the new jeans.
In discussing your proposal, I was mindful of both your personal situation (the need to reflect, to find a new way forward), as well as the dilemma for artists here, pushed beyond their limits by the demands of daily life and then the question of how to respond to the problems involved in regenerating our society. The tension between the personal needs of the individual and social responsibility are the focus of very real time, and I know that you are thinking about these questions. So when I given the chance to pay all your bills, get some new clothes and reflect in tranquility, I was disappointed to see you embark on a shopping and drinking spree which seems to have left little room for a clear thought. Rather than an opportunity for regeneration, the funding seems to have served only to reaffirm your more regressive habits, fuelling an inward turned and one dimensional cult of the personality.
It is not the first time that the local artists taking part in very real time have displayed obstructive and self-alienating behaviour. Part of it I’m sure has simply to do with being too busy dealing with daily stresses of life in their hometown, but I think it is also mixed with some degree of shyness, insecurity and suspicion of outsiders. Emotions which we all suffer from, myself more than most. Things often get a lot more fun when insecurities are treated openly and with humour, rather than with guarded distance, hardball etc. We seem to agree that art is better in the warts and all form: unfinished, awkward, ungainly, giggling involuntarily. I often think that artists most meaningful contributions happen in spite of themselves. I would be so happy if something clumsy and unpredictable can still emerge from your participantion in very real time, and I look forward to your thoughts.
27 October 2006
THE WORK OF ART IS NO LONGER NECESSARY
Thank you for your letter. I appreciate the concern and will try to keep my response as short as possible.
I do not understand why you feel this constant need for a response to my work. In the past my production has been slightly reactionary and in turn received a lot of responses. Quite frankly, I am getting bored with this and am presently attempting to move toward something new. What that might be is still a bit unclear at this stage. I was never under the impression that there were any such requirements for the Very Real Time 2 projects.
In fact, it is my general impression that the Cape Town community are not really engaging with the project, and probably feel a bit excluded from the whole thing. It seems a bit closed off, and even to me as a local participant. It is for this reason that I decided to do my own thing, to try out different ideas of art making and see where it leads. I will list these now.
I made a well-attended and modest exhibition at Blank. I did a few braai performances at my studio. I bought some canvass and paints to see what it would be like to be a painter. I got some gear for my play station to do a night time performance for the duration of the month. I bought some new clothes as my public appearance felt a bit shoddy. I was under the impression that you would understand this kind of work.
Then there is the issue of the group dynamic and my unwillingness to participate in any of their organised activities. As I recall I invited all of them from the start to call me for a drink when needed and I have not yet had that call, only to ask for my assistance. I felt awkward around the group and really tried to engage, but it did not work. For this reason, I felt like spending less time with them. And their activities felt slightly touristy. I am not so interested in whale watching. I live here.
But this is where the project gets interesting for me. If part of the work is to develop out of some sort of social group dynamic, then how is negativity and uncomfortability a problem? I feel that this adds to the project rather than being a destructive force. And even your threat to fire me becomes extremely interesting and important. And fuels my work and at the same time develops it.
For this project I do not feel that what I am doing is worthwhile or important to anyone else but me, and as we discussed initially, you were willing to give me this time to reflect and respond to my own actions. What you are asking of me now, is to provide some thoughts as to why I feel my actions are valid, if I understand correctly. Such a response would seem like a justification in order not to be fired from the program. I have no intention of doing so.
On the topic of your paranoia of being involved in a “corrupt endeavour”, I understand your concern. But I have some ideas on the matter. Personally I am very interested in the financial matters of cultural funding in this country. We, as artists, often have to produce work with little or no money. This is primarily why my body of work has taken the route it has. I am also interested in what happens to money when it is provided for artistic projects. On a micro scale I have been involved in shows where government money is used mainly for the hefty salaries of the curators and no funding is used for actual individual projects. On a macro scale it would be interesting to see what happens to something like the Cape Biennale, after millions have been pumped into the venture (hogging most of our local cultural funding), if it will indeed happen. Therefore it is interesting to me that when you provide me with a fairly large some of money, I squander it on new jeans, lap dances and other useless things. You should not feel personally involved in a corrupt thing. It was my choice and I did it openly. And when this project is over and all the money is gone I will continue my production with zero cash. You still owe me 3K.
I am interested in what you refer to as “ fuelling an inward turned and one dimensional cult of the personality.” I agree. I find this kind of one-dimensional work extremely interesting as it raises a lot of questions and discursive problems regarding the la-la-land of so-called “layered and meaningful art,” which I despise. I am a fan of one-liners as it seems less pretentious and opens itself up to criticism. This is more important as it might offer a general discussion amongst the general public and does not hide behind certain art discourses. And if I am the topic of this criticism, I will “take it like a man”.
I also feel that this does address the insecurities of art practitioners, including myself. It is not that I think that art should be ignored on purpose; I find that most art bores me. This has left some questioning my involvement in the arts. The fact is that I don't like ‘art'. I don't like the industry. I like the bickering, the backstabbing and constant references to: ‘but I did it first' and ‘she stole my idea'. Basically I like the bullshit. And it is not that I really dislike all the art. I just think that my work is better.
I urge the other artists, as well as yourself, to come forward with responses.
But please: Not the new Jeans.
28 October 2006
(is this art? or the necessity to address the question)
despite the fact that the original letter is for Gregg, we have been cced and invited to respond.
is this a cry for help or a last attempt at undisguised arrogance? the very ambivalence might be the core of the problem or the difficulty to relate which is at the centre of all ills.
I am convinced that Art funding is problematic beyond Cape town, and comments on the issue are pertinent and pervasive, if you have chosen this particular comment as the main dynamic of your practice so be it (might as well buy crack, whores and indulge) but, please do take into account that there exist other practices around just as valid and pertinent, I do not believe there is a degree in the value of pertinence that as artists we can apply to each other( although we can't help doping it somehow) , and the light under which you currently present things doesn't offer much space for discussion and nuance, but rather some strong sense of self-righteousness.
I agree that maybe to access your 'concerns', sharing some form of process might have made a whole difference, but hey... work has to be made, this is not a school, one has to relate, exchange in one 's own term, we might behave as tourist, which eventually we are, the place offers a whole deal of information that can't possibly be dealt with within a month, and i am sure we take responsability for our individual situation, so take yours! by refusing to engage you create the very situation you complain about.
don't know what call for a drink you are talking about...we do function independently not as a collective, and even if some of us were in the same institution, it doesn't mean we necessarily knew each other's work so well or related in the way we have while being here...well you are not interested in whale watching, but are willing to coerce us into some lap dancing bar, well some of us have lived in Amsterdam where we had our fare share of female demeaning in the red light district, is this an economical statement? do we need to share it? indeed the power play conjures up images..., so let me invite you to some SM clubs of Antwerp for some good old fist fucking watching(next time I have money), pardon my frrench...
some people react very well to provacation and their very reaction could be the dynamic of many otherwise not so interesting situation, but what happens when no one reacts?
see you soon
ps: we are in the same boat, however tempting it is to see oneself as a renagade
1 November 2006
WHERE IS THE FORM?
Shot for the response,
The problem here is that art thing, I think. It is a messy environment in which we exist. We are in the same boat, you are right. And what are we to make of this?
I think that one of the many aspects of the Very Real Time project is that it exposes artistic behaviour on a more personal level. And this is why the project is successful. What does bother me though, is that when an artist deals with this kind of personal exposure in his or her own way, it is often seen as problematic. There still exists a preconceived notion of what might fit into the category of “art”, or artistic behaviour.
When one deviates from this existing structure, it is seen as arrogant, self-indulgent and aggressive. How is this a problem. In a contemporary art structure where form is dissolving, we are still obsessively trying to hang onto particular forms. Is this really necessary? And is this good for art.
For me this project really exposed and developed my own insecurities. In re-evaluating my concerns as an artist throughout this project, it offered me time to really engage with myself (and yes, I did jerk off once or twice), for a change, and less with the world that surrounds me. And for the first time I got to like these insecurities. I suppose I cannot think of any artist that has not yet had to face these at some point in their careers. Show me a confident artist and I will show you a good time: Maybe some good old artistic Faust Fucking in Antwerp.
So it is here that I would like to make a stand. It is your unwillingness to engage with my project that is arrogant. What really pissed me off is that I find now excuses are being made. Even if leaving me the fuck alone meant more engagement. My problem is that I had to listen to Gregg and the complaints from the Very Real Timers. I find this rude and incompetent and not really engaging.
You guys are from the same school. This did make a huge difference. From the start you all huddled together and failed to really engage with many from the local scene. This is also not a big problem but did develop some tensions. I do not really see the reason why this is a problem as I do feel this changes the dynamics of the very real time discourse. It becomes far more interesting than a bunch of happy artists patting themselves on the back. I have seen that too often. I think we should embrace personal differences. Maybe some random beatings could have also been interesting.
And, as I remember, the invitation for a drink was also to you personally. I recall this being said outside your apartment before you went for a drive around the mountain. It would have been nice to take you to some local bars and show you the scene. And have a little chat. Instead I was invited to little dinner parties that I fucking hate.
And thanks for the invitation for fist fuck watching in Antwerp. I will definitely take you up on the offer.