ASRL / PERPETUAL 2014
 
Of Rhetoric and Modern Art
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 08-11-11
Raymond Duncan, Socrates of the Avant-Garde

The onset of modernity, underpinned by the bourgeois revolution, saw art develop into a marketplace commodity sought by many. The critic's pen emerged partly as a substitute for the suspect taste of the buying public. The magazine n+1 recently printed an essay entitled "Against Reviews" excoriating the impersonality and blandness of the whole arrangement (though the author was talking about fiction, and mostly, it seemed, describing bad reviews).

But can criticism be taken out of modernism? When the avant-garde came along, criticism and rhetoric took on a new role: to explain and defend the shocking and alien. As quoted in a recent Artnet article, Tzara recalled from his Dada days: "Raymond Duncan, the philosopher who walks about Paris in the costume of Socrates, was there with all his school and came to our defense, quieting the audience. The very best Socialist orators took sides and spoke for and against us." Cubism helped build the careers of countless critics from the poet Apollinaire to Clement Greenberg. (With the increasing valuations of Cubism and Surrealism in the market of course, those competing roles of the modernist critic came to overlap).

Today, the bourgeois public is hard to shock; more often in fact the critic has to write simply to convince readers of the relevance of a given work amid the throng. Artists and curators too write more: wall text, artists statements, catalogues, etc. Conceptual artwork frequently comes with lengthy explanations for what it supposed to show or do (thematize the ghostliness of global networks, evoke the instability of language). It seems harder for an artistic gesture to speak for itself.

A conceivable next step could be (rather than getting rid of reviewers), to bypass artists and artworks entirely... and for the aestheticians and critics to simply extrapolate probable or possible artworks from the cultural matrix, then critique them. The late Roberto Bolano, (though again with fiction) laid the groundwork for this through his satirical, Borgesesque Nazi Literature in the Americas, which traced an imaginary fascist literary scene.

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The Art of Substitution
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 08-10-11
Futurist Banquet
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"A long freeze seems to paralyze the diners, substituting for the usual ice-cream which as it happens is bad for stomachs which have become so heated in the acrobatic juggling of happiness, alarming mushrooms and dynamic partridges..."

-The Futurist Cookbook

("Gelato," or ice cream, is also the Italian past participle of "to freeze": noted in Anti-Diets of the Avant-Garde: From Futurist Cooking to Eat Art, By Cecilia Movero)

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Quotable Avant-Gardes: The Appetite and the Dish.
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 08-09-11

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"I am against all morals, against discipline. To be a painter, it is necessary to have guts [foi, liver], the sacred fire. Just like eating: first comes the appetite, then the choice of the dish." -George Braque ...Source
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Capricorn Bicycles Unrolls the Duchamp
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 08-08-11

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Capricorn, a purveyor of steel bikes handcrafted by Minneapolis's Brad Wilson, now makes Duchamp and Selavy models intended to capture, natural, elegant Euro-style: "bikes on which you would never think to wear lycra." (Whether the designers at Capricorn are appraised of some of the truly awful shorts worn by males around European capitals these days is another matter). The Selavy features an easy-mount step-through frame for the ladies.

There is something a bit funny about naming a fully functioning bike after Duchamp, who went so far to deconstruct that conveyance into an icon of purposeless motion. Perhaps this only goes to show that with the avant-garde, what goes around, comes around.

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A Comparative Analysis of Duchamp and Dr. Dre.
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 08-07-11

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"Neither Dre nor DuChamp were happy in their circles, however, so they formed new ones. Dre left Death Row and formed Aftermath, while DuChamp formed the Societe Anonyme. These would be the organizations the dudes would stick wit’. DuChamp continued exploring the relationship between the artist and spectator with kinetic mobiles – moving sculptures and conceptual extensions of his readymade works like The Fountain. Dre did the same, rapping on Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath, as well as producing the first album by rap supergroup The Firm. Like DuChamp's readymades, which asked the viewer to reconsider their perception of what is “art,” these albums were so shitty they forced the listener to ask ‘What the fuck am I listening to? Does something actually think this is good? Is this supposed to be hiphop?’ -From "Etant Donnes, or Why I'm Still Excited for Detox," on Popular Lemonade

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