Roger Boyce – 6 August, 2012
As Satanic Eucharist is to Roman Catholic Rite so is Rational Recovery‘s antithetical dogma exquisitely diametric to Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book apologia.
Along similar lines, the determinedly dematerialized arm of ‘conceptual art’ - positioning itself, as it does, in an asymmetrically analogous symbiotic relationship - is contrarily dependent on pre-existing, physical, objects d’art for its own disembodied and volitionally puritanical, ‘non-existence’. In any sizeable metropolis one can find dematerial works hovering ‘round visual art precincts. Like an almost perceptible, illimitable, lick of flame - a holy-art-ghost, invisibly occupying the (holiest of holy) ark of the art-tabernacle.
To clarify - the Black Mass is, for all intents and purposes, an inversion of Roman Catholic ritual. Its adumbrated, reflective, ‘photo-negative’ of imago dei serving principally and perversely to reaffirm the primacy of Catholic Sacrament. Rational Recovery’s litany, postured primarily as a contradiction of Alcoholics Anonymous’ foundational dogma, peculiarly assures its own subordinate status as a perpetually contending, second-in-birth-order, sibling.
The artworld’s round-headed, Oliver Cromwell-like, post-object practitioners and theorists perpetually evidence their object-art hostility and thus object co-dependency by devoting a telling portion of time and creative energy denouncing object makers and objects. Dismissing such practitioners as reactionary, deviant, and irrelevantly archaic ‘object fetishists’.
The post-structural practitioner’s chronic and pejorative employment of the term fetish is richly revealing. Fetishes - as sociologically and anthropologically understood - are psychologically charged manmade objects which on one hand claim to embody metaphysical forces (as typified in Muslim or Christian reliquaries and Minkisi ‘power-figurines’) and on the ‘left-hand’ are physically employed to rouse and direct an otherwise impotent imagination and will - erotic imagination, in the actual (as opposed to ideational) act of declaring sovereignty over its situational (i.e. biological/psychological) fate.
“I defy any lover of painting to love a picture as much as a fetishist loves a shoe“, submits Georges Bataille in his Visions of Excess. Anti-art dematerialists pigheadedly take Bataille’s wickedly apt conflation of shoe and painting as the sui generis French polemicist’s de facto demotion of painting. To believe, and espouse, such theoretical nonsense one would have to ignorantly presuppose that Bataille - an ardent fetishist himself - was, in the saying, devaluing both his beloved shoe (the most ubiquitous of sexual fetishes) and the painted object - painting, coincidentally; the most pervasive emblem of creative visual imagination and its excrescence-concretizing act.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” is the root-text of Protestantism. What this particular biblical verse promotes is the neo-platonic notion that logos precedes - and exists perpetually in an alternative space, far from the impurity of - corporeal creation. Given a Post-Object Art-Yeshiva schul-boy/girl’s oft-demonstrated devotion to, close reading of - and rigorous adherence to - art-as-language ‘theology’ (for wont of a better catchall descriptor) there is little mystery why faith, in a sort of Emersonian style art-transcendence is sustainable in the face of the preponderance of visually dismal artworks flowing from such belief. A belief requiring fastidious eschewing of aesthetically aspirational, or frankly organized, visual matter… and its consequent delight.
The ardent art-revolutionary’s ersatz auto-da-fé of dropping or disregarding arts formal ‘body’ - a visible body, portrayed by eternally recurring art-reformists as nothing more than a delimiting, consciousness-imprisoning, chrysalis - is the sort of escapist passion shared by Marshall Applewhite’s infamous Heaven’s Gate cult …. up until they donned identical Nike athletic shoes and quaffed their phenobarbital spiced applesauce, en route to rendezvous with an imagined U.F.O., shadowing the Hale Bopp Comet. As rudely ludicrous as this comparison may be seem, in its dark-humored way, it nonetheless points up the shopworn fact that the socially corrosive myth of bodily transcendence is (unfortunately) not the proprietary idée fixe of art-nuns/monks/theologians alone.
The utopian/protestant smell of disembodied conceptual art, with its semiotically redeeming and binding contractual texts, offers nothing more, and nothing less, than a literal ordo salutis privileging of faith (in the word) over works.
And, as more and more ‘ordained’ elect emerge from art-seminaries (theory-driven art MFA & Ph.D factories) there will be ever-bigger explanatory wall labels and ever more interminable, avant-garde-genealogical-name-dropping litanies - as exemplified by Vincente Todoli’s intellectually lazy, thigh-slapping, Walters Prize sideshow-ballyhoo. Thankfully they will be in your future (me, I’ll be gratefully dead) not mine.
Speaking of gratitude, transcendence and après-transcendence disappointments - what did one Dead-Head say to another when the acid wore off? “Hey man, what’s this crappy music we’re listening to?”
[The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own - and not necessarily of other writers on EyeContact, least of all its editor. Opposing or differing points of view - articulated in threaded comments or essay format - are always welcome.]
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