Wednesday, November 25, 2015

taking the piss

It would not be unfair, i think, to describe most draughtswomen and-men contributing to this blog as respectful of, if not pertaining to or even firmly rooted in, popular visual culture, although perhaps the part below the waist (waste?) of the mainstream.
I would be curious to know how many of us take inspiration from the aesthetics & tactics of 'contemporary art,' & in what way, negative or positive, if at all. 

Any thoughts?


Gaspard Pitiot said...

Would you consider Duchamp as a contemporary artist? I’m sick of the prejudices related to last century art.

Marcel Ruijters said...

I am a big fan of NSK, although it does not show in my work per se.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Gaspard: which prejudices are those exactly, & does your own work counter or adress them, you'd say?
Duchamp contemporary, why not? I think his approach, because of its ambiguity, is valid as ever,
But then, my sense of temporality is rather skewed. I'd consider El Greco a contemporary artist.

Marcel: which aspect of NSK appeals to you specifically?

alkbazz said...

contemporary means alive, or for some peoples things done after 1950. The end of craftmen, the end of progressiv art history, the beginning of super-heros where an individual is an artist per se and so everything he's doing is art.
I myself been influenced by pre-contemporary, dada for the fuck of, surrealism for the fantastic and imaginary, for the freedom of gesture and various underwave for independancy.
But contemporary art as nothing to say, I use it sometimes when i'm making installation, something like an absurd vacuity used as a mirror

All in all i'm still attached to craftwork, symbolism, imaginary and all these things which were available before contemporary art rules

Marcel Ruijters said...

Ibrahim: The tactics of over-identification with autotarianism, as their fellow countryman Slavoj Zizek called it. How certain esthaetics may appear to be connected to a specific content, but aren't. It inspired me to break free from my usual way of drawing and add new ways.
It saddens me that craft has been replaced by mercantilism.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

I believe that tradition is contained into modernity and modernity is contained into tradition. The yin and yang is a pertinent symbol to represent this relationship. I think that twentieth century was obsessed with the idea that modernity and tradition were separated. It is a prejudice. I find ridiculous to question tradition or to reject it from a modern point of view. These approaches seem to me very simplistic. So I’m sick of the rhetoric that twentieth century used.

I am disgusted of the white wall: after Second World War two, the taste for white, purity and property is irresponsible and is insulting the memory of the people who died because the Nazis thought the were not pure. I don’t feel inferior to white wall artists. I think they are retrogrades.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Marcel, Alkbazz: thanks for the insight in its relationship to your own practice. "Absurd vacuity used as a mirror," is a great phrase. Isn't mercantilism of all times though ( what would Jheronimus say?)...

Gaspard: i wholeheartedly agree on the importance of tradition.

But a blanket condemnation of all contemporary art on purely aesthetic grounds? Of course the ubiquity of the white wall is tiresome and yes, the best draughtsman in contemporary art can not hold a candle to even a mediocre illlustrator from the 1930s. But i know plenty of artists who try to hone what craft they have, and while this is not, you know, proper figure drawing or glazing techniques ( most painters these days use oil paint for things it's not even good at), there is a definite resolve among them to refine and articulate their visual statements. So the nature of craft cannot change to accomodate new approaches?

alkbazz said...

I studied materials and technics of painters for years, if there's something to think about it's industrial influence on painters uses. On modern period, XVIII-XIXth c, industrial were asked (by politics) to create colors for european economic independance (for example growing indigo instead of bying from persia). In the XIX th this decided of technical changes, painting faster, more material, more thickness etc. Painters like pre-raphaelite tested new green colors which were not available before etc.
Then on XXth c they changed oil composition, created acrylics and eliminate all heavy metal in painting. Til now only a few remain, cobalt and cadmium. Nowadays they are eliminating these last remaining, we'll soon work, with only synthetic colors and mixing... This plus "workshop secrets" destroy oil practice, so nowadays oil painting depends on industrial cause composition are very specific to each brand. Many painters now try to go back but many are using a simplified technic.
In conclusion I think exigent painters uses their own technic and try to be independant from industrial materials.
As Gaspard tired of white walls, I'm tired of "modern material" and all synthetic ones used in industry. Not only painting. Like being modern by using modern material, while using traditionnal is being retrograde is stupid thought.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

My point was not to emphasise the importance of tradition. I meant that new media and new approaches always contain many traditional characteristics. Very often the traditional parts of modern art are unquestioned because the artists act as if their work was a symbolic public burning of the past. It is very naïve. On the other hand when tradition is questioned it over rates the importance of it and as a result it induces conservative political statements.

I think modernity would be best understood if we thought of it more like transitional cultural paradigm. There are structural redistributions which make us think that modernity and tradition fight one another like good and evil does. It is a simplistic prejudice.

alkbazz said...

This fight is old one now, as far as we are in post modern spirit... But it's still true in certain domain, like for engraving where there's an attachment to tradition more than the result (sounds weird but many true engraver said to me more about how i should make prints than talking about images, representation etc).
Traditionnal side is more on spirit than material, i mean better keep tradition technic than traditionnal spirit! As modern and contemporary art could be by using synthetic polyurethane resins, this traditionnal view keep all things down with retained "hahahah", wooden floor & champagne

Marcel Ruijters said...

Ibrahim: of course, mercantilism is nothing new, but i doubt it whether it would have been the be-all and end-all for someone like Hieronymus Bosch, who was quite revolutionary in many ways- avant-garde, if you like . Note the absence of portraits of kings/noblemen in his body of work, for instance. I'm inclined to think he was not after big money so much.
The XX century was about the ego and the liberation of the individual very much. As a child of my time, i embraced it. Now it seems that we are throwing that away in favour of the lowest common demoninators that will sell the most, but maybe i am too pessimistic.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Quite surprised that the matter seems so politically loaded; i just wanted to talk about aesthetics.

alkbazz said...

there's no specific contemporary aesthetic in art which is not in every other contemporary object. here you show a Duchamp as a very good example

Marcel Ruijters said...

Art, like religion or technology (or combinations of all of those) have been used as political tools ad nauseam. Also, pioneers who want to break free from everything old, are too often political on a subconcious level.

Surprised that you are surprised, Ibrahim.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Well, the thing is- the simple fact alone that my question (which boils down to 'what can we as craftsmen in a certain popular art vernacular glean from the tactics and approach of contemporary art?') seems to beget answers dealing mostly with, mark this, conceptual matters; that fact alone proves that, all political protestations notwithstanding, the 21st century approach to art shows its influence indeed.

alkbazz said...

I don't get you sorry, english problems^^
you ask what tactic/approach, which is conceptual things right?
i agree cause as i said there's no particular aesthetic
if there's one it's clinical one, or dictionnary one, or maybe carpet catalog one...
so the tactics are those from commercial issue, plus a certain remanent elitism - art is something high on society, not like movies or what, it proves intellectual superiority, right? so the tactic is we are doing intelligent design and this can save your taxes and justify your whitewalls paranoia
i think that most of us here are on another move, more traditionnal and respectful for us and our audience (at least honest). It's not about technics cause we can use various ones, including modern's.
noone escape this as far as he's going on audience, only real art brut/primitiv can escape that relationship with outside world. The best we can do is forgotting that and manage our own way. I was more "agaisnt" when i was younger, like dada could have been, nowadays i just simply don't care. Except when i see "my world" becoming "this world", then i need sometimes to call back.
more than ever i feel like on another planet, my way cross many others like we are not on same work "oh you're artist/gallerist? i'm just making drawings..." "oh you're a contemporary music scene, well i'm listening to... other stuff" and so on

Gaspard Pitiot said...

When Duchamp went to the retrospective they organised for his work, he was annoyed because people found aesthetic values in his work, so he said that they didn’t understand it. There is no aesthetical value which is relevant in his work.

Ibrahim, considering the image you posted I thought we would ignore aesthetic values and that we would talk about anti-art which qualify artworks which mediums are considered not traditional.

After all, I think that the appropriation of the word “contemporary” by some people who are in a definite style of art presentation and documentation, nowadays, suggest that other styles are not as “contemporary”. I guess it aims at rejecting expressions which are not fit.

One likes contemporary art but contemporary art doesn’t like them.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Alkbazz: tactic and approach, with visual art, are no concepts but ways to communicate something, therefore they pertain to the realm of technique, of craft if you will. So right now, i'm reading this discussion as an artificially polarized juxtaposition of two types of craft.

Gaspard: i appreciate your astute delineation of the cultural hierarchy, but abiding to another party's definition of ourselves as outcasts is hardly the solution, as long as re-appropriation is an option.
I don't need to be liked. I am in my studio, not on Facebook.

Duchamp was taking the piss, that was the concept, but he had to bring together signature and urinal to make his concept visual: this involves decisions pertaining to perception ( i.e. aesthetics). He knew that, he was a smart guy, so he was probably still taking the piss at that retrospective.

alkbazz said...

Duchamp did this for a specific exhibition where he was organizer (kind of), but with nickname Mutt, cause rules was "all aesthetics accepted" - he defied this rule and was refused. Then he quit the organisation and start militing. that was probably funny in a way but he wasn't taking the piss, imo. it's not esthetic, the intention is showing something unaesthetic and make it accepted as art.

i agree Duchamp isn't contemporary art, that was 1917
usually we consider 50 last years, or living artists
these also have political speech but they do use clear aesthetics

Marcel Ruijters said...

Gaspard, I agree with you. We see politics, art and so on habitually as some sort of chessboard between to opposites. Why keep things restricted to dichotomies while we have many colours to choose from?

(A pissoir, signed or not, was designed by a humble craftsman, so maybe Duchamp was more anti-craft, than anti-art after all)

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Well, obviously one can approach philosophically Duchamp’s work as aesthetics. But it would denaturises it.

Conceptual art is a term which was created by Sol Lee Witt. I would not oppose concepts and aesthetics in Duchamp’s work which is too early to be regarded as conceptualism. Fountain is not a conceptual work of art. I would rather consider it as a degrading statement.

Duchamp is related to late ninetieth century French humour which is very grotesque, caustic and witty. I think of Alphons Allais for example. Alphonse Allais invented monochrome and silent musical pieces two generations before it was valued in the twentieth century with Klein and Cadge for example.

You can say Duchamp was “taking the piss”. Duchamp’s puns are not schoolboy prank. They are rooted in the tensions of late ninetieth century bourgeois society. Duchamp rejected his context as a whole. After all it was not that funny.

Duchamp practiced sabotages of the foundations of his cultural context and showed its limits. After that he wrote on a positive basis about what he did and his work became the justification of twentieth century consensual art. But his original aim was not to found contemporary art. If he had wanted so, he would not have invented the neologism “anti-art”. His aim was related to late ninetieth century debasement.

As a I previously said, I’m tiered of the occidental dialectic which oppose tradition and modernity. I’m far more interested by systemic views which would regard culture as a transitional paradigm. I think modernity contains tradition and tradition contains modernity. New ideas appear either in traditional medium or in new mediums. And retrograde views are often more powerful when expressed in contemporary mediums.

I’m sick of twentieth century meta-mediums, meta-art, and art about art. I like to consider what is expressed in a given medium. I find disloyal to reduce expressions to the relation their medium have with other mediums.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

I would say the definition of anti-art implies anti-craft positions. But in his "Box in a Suitcase" Marcel Duchamp presented reproduction of his works. Some of his early paintings were in it. So it proves that Duchamp didn’t reject painting and craft.

The rejection and despise for painting and craft is related to late twentieth century,I think. Tania Mouraud destroyed her paintings. Duchamp didn’t.

alkbazz said...

Dudes if these dychotomies doesn't exist I should make my life a second time cause I missed something

Gaspard Pitiot said...

These dichotomies exist. I think the fight of values and the opposition of the old and the new is an aspect of cultural transition. But there are many relations in this antagonism which are far more complex. The structure is always changing: beliefs become entertainment, provocations become norms, traditional views become hidden part of modernity, intuition become science, knowledge become aesthetics, etc. There is no inert foundation in our culture.

People during the twentieth century positioned either by rejecting radically the past or by attempts to conciliate or question the past and the modern world. I’m very sceptical about that.

Duchamp became the mascot of the rejection of the past. But I think tradition is contained in modernity. “Fountain” has traditional qualities.

From my point of view “Fountain” is a dialectical work of art. At first, there was a paradox: all artworks were supposed to be accepted but fountain was refused. It was refused because people considered, it wasn’t a work of art. After that, the paradox was solved because Duchamp explained why it was. Dialectic is an antique rhetorical practice so “Fountain” is deeply rooted in occidental historical discourse. Tradition empowered it.

I think ready made is a prehistoric medium: to choose an object and to explain people around that this object is important didn’t occur in the twentieth century for the first time.

Duchamp said fountain was an artwork because he had chosen it. The emphasis on the choice is related to free will which is a traditional value.

I’m far more interested by “the bride stripped bare by her bachelors, even” and its “green box”. It has very interesting narrative qualities which are very much comic strip like. I think the way Duchamp created relations between the mediums he used in this work was really clever. Fountain is not that absurd and fun.

Twenty years ago Picasso’s “Les demoiselles d’Avignon” was considered the most influential artwork of the twentieth century. But now Fountain is considered more important.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...


Thanks first of all for engaging the topic at length; it is warmly appreciated.
You weave a complex argument, but there seems to be a paradox at its heart.
In claiming a transitional paradigm for culture instead of the usual binaries, you inadvertently set this view in opposition to other paradigms, thereby creating another binary.

I'm totally with you on the similarities between Duchamp's Bride and comics, not because i want to claim Duchamp for, and thereby somehow legitimize, comics, but because i think comics as a medium can benefit from studying such approaches and tactics as Duchamp's, and apply them to narrative; in fact, this was the entire point of my original post.

As a side note: i'm deeply suspicious of the common presumption that ancient Greek culture pertains somehow to the Occident, while geographically, culturally, it was far more Oriental in nature (in that it even *had* a culture to speak of, first of all)- another useless binary in many ways, yet it remains helpful to point out that Greek culture, like original Christianity, is something vastly different from the latinate versions of it...

alkbazz said...

Sorry for i've been interrupted and end with short stupid message...

What I mean is "you pose a dichotomy at first" so don't ask if you don't want it =) Then there's a blurry point to think of, which is what is contemporary. First choice is "contemporary art is actual, the one that make progressiv sense and which is agreed by institution". To me this is nothing special except being very adapted to contemporary ideal. And here's opposition we can have, I see no influence except in being in opposition with, could be by going against it for old values or for new ones. This one I agree is contemporary and very agressive for everything which is not. Go to school and ask to learn craft so you'll be sure being not accepted there. And in general way don't speak technic / material first. It's taboo.
Then there's this modern one which start in early XXth c or earlier. Then I'll say the exact opposite, yes of course we're influenced by, I think this is the only reason we exist as artists. Duchamp and cie opens the gate for what is art, making it larger than any other kind in art history. Because he posed the fact that an artist isn't dependant of his craft. That's the point. And here again there's opposition between this and old time. An artist isn't anymore a worker, technically superior, working for a customer with money and specific wishes, rules and so on. He's not contrain to a single medium or a single subject (as chinese still are for example), he's painter, writer, poete etc.
So we have 2 different opposition, one is craftmen versus art-for-art (tradition vs XXth c), the other is "contemporary" versus classical. With this classical term applied to everything not contemporary, even stuff made after Duchamp's lessons or futurism, cubism etc. Actually everything not new is not contemporary art.

I'm child of dada and so in opposition to contemporary because i consider being free to deal with many forms and depths, and not restrain to contemporary rules. Neither to classical ones. And i'm not trying to make new, to erase past and create future/present.

Now, dada/surrealism influence is obvious in actual comic. Tactics of it is not only readymade, aesthetic of objects in context, but also free creativity, subconscious and mechanical writing, surrealism, mysticism, psychic influence, fantastic, dream. And fun! Deep laugh is also something that matter, following Nietzsche and the death of god seriousness have been rejected by modern times. Cadavre exquis is kind of narrative art! What about collage and so on!
Nietzsche is teaching no students, he's delivering us without giving rules, and so is dada, see in all arts what you can get. Comic you'll find in illumination, on tapestry, even on prehistoric caverns. Comics in modern term is here and there, everywhere. You'll find new and so modernity in everything existing. Not on traditionnal, not on contemporary but in all that and more.

All in all we could follow the post-modernism and say everything is undefined, nothing's truely opposite, that's something we can feel deeply in us, but when confronting to others reality take power and says "hey there's nothing new in what you say, tell me more!"

Side note : Greek culture actually pertain to us as it does on oriental side. We have language, alphabets, laws, political system, philosphy, science, litterature... And all our art history depends of it by the way of painting, figurative art, which we consider as our own since hundreds years. About book history, both content and form, we're in the same boat, in opposition to orientalism. Greek culture has been in opposition with eastern for long time, remember babylon.

Marcel Ruijters said...

Ibrahim: to ask a question is to answer it. Methinks you already have some idea of how comics could benefit from modern art's tactics. Could you give a few examples that succeeded?
Personnally, I don't see it clearly, as comics have been traditionally placed outside of the realm of Art with capital A, so those rules never quite applied and it's difficult to enter the game and unilateraly claim that they will from then on.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Marcel: if comics' claim to Art status is unilateral, then so is any current refusal to accord the medium that status.
There are many artists (Artists) applying narrative strategies from comics to their work, from Charles Avery to Marcel van Eeden to Raymond Pettibon, so there's no reason why that influence should be a one-way street.
What comics are often described at being good at, exploring the tension between words and pictures, is quite often the least interesting aspect, the ellipsis or caesura between either being too small and obvious. There is, in that respect at least, a lot to glean from the willful hermeticism of current Art.

Jeffrey Catherine Jones, in allowing the visuals a narrative distinct from the text; Chris Ware's Building Stories in adressing the story-as-object, the open spaces in Aidan Koch's work; there's this amazing comic written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Mark Beyer that is worth the bulk of Watchmen to me; panels filled only with the colour red in Hellboy; Al Columbia's Pim & Francie book, stronger because of its fragmented nature. These are not necessarily examples of art tactics applied to comics; but the tactics used are similar; and not used enough by far.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

And, Alkbazz, who is 'us'? There's quite a bunch of 'us's that i'd rather not be included in, thank you.

Also, and this goes for Roy Bloody Lichtenstein too, just because you consider something your own doesn't make it yours, i'm afraid.

alkbazz said...

this "us" is fictionnal anonymous abstraction don't worry

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Ha. Like art.

Marcel Ruijters said...

Sadly, a lot of comic creators agree with their denied access to the art world and cop the artisan's position. Their cultural ghetto is what they know, and it's what they'll keep.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

My point exactly, Marcel.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Ibrahim : a cultural paradigm isn’t “binary”.

You’re amalgamating the terms of my discourse and the way I present them in its context. It is quite unfair to do so.

It certainly is “binary”, as you said, to oppose transitional cultural paradigm to the binary system modernity/tradition which is not a paradigm. And that’s what I intended. I’m not rejecting binary systems in general. I’m pointing out the discriminatory positions of the late twentieth century main stream contemporary art.

The culture is a common good. I believe that suffering people have specific cultural needs. The established neo anti-art rejections of old practices are fragmenting knowledge. If stammers, for example, need to practice traditional singing or if psychotics need to paint in the ancient style, to find relief, I believe they have the right to do so without being despised by pompous neo anti-art or tacky contemporary claimed artists: during centuries we have invented practices, they were progresses ; they still have to evolve. To reject them would be retrograde. The culture is a common property. Appropriation transforms us. And after all, anti-art is becoming traditional. It’s no fuckin’ early twentieth century here.

Dadaism gave new instruments of dumb power to cheesy snobs who wallow in naff contemporary self-conceit. I’m rejecting the way the institutional pomp and strutting contemporary art status quo force the artists to play the capital A Art versus anti-art rant. I’m tired of the way anti-art became white normative and stigmatic mumbo jumbo. I need to practice art without having to tick the meta-language box questions about art. I prefer it to be experimental and rhetoric. I’m tired of great Art about art, Arty Art about Crafty art, anti-art about anti-art, Good bad art about High and low art, bad good art about lofty art, popular art about high and very low art, meta-anti-art about Art as Meta-art and all the compulsory meta-about about meta-about.

I’m still convinced that tradition and modernity contain one another.

I don’t understand your opinion regarding Greek/Latin heritage. Do you suggest Latin dialectic is different from Greek dialectic?
Is the Greek square different from the Latin square?

And yes Lichtenstein never gave any money to the people who created the images he used. He didn’t even quote their names. Their families are still trying to claim their rights.

I’m tired to write in English. I’m not capable of any subtlety in it. I think that’s enough for now.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Sorry. I loose my temper because I cannot express precisely what I think in English. So I become vainly pejorative.

There are points which seem important to me:

1. When dada gesture is appropriated by establishment or by people who are not rebelling as dada was, it leads to stigmatic social rules. Similar things occurred when Suprematism was appropriated in the 1960s.

2. It is possible to understand contemporary art prejudices if we analyse the formal constructions of early twentieth century anti-art concepts.

3 The late twentieth century main stream artists persisted to justify by using modernist, Art/anti-art rhetoric. It was retrograde. At the same time, the systemic reflection on ecosystems, cognition, culture, logic was far more advanced than the official post-dada white wall academism.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Gaspard, il n'y a pas de problème. I won't hold your English against you any more than i'd like to see mine held against me.

So let me get this straight- to summarize, you value Dada, but only within its original context. What most would consider Dada's influence, you say is actually an appropriation of Dada, used to justify an art that is overly formalized and superficial. Yes? If i got it wrong, please feel free to explain again , in French (your language, no?). I'll suss out the meaning.

I actually love that list:
" great Art about art, Arty Art about Crafty art, anti-art about anti-art, Good bad art about High and low art, bad good art about lofty art, popular art about high and very low art, meta-anti-art about Art as Meta-art and all the compulsory meta-about about meta-about."
These things are so persuasive and paramount that it's hard not to read exactly *that* type of irony into it...

About Greek & Latinate culture: Greek mythology, for instance, was a living pagan religion, a set of symbols and practices grown naturally from, and amongst, the peoples of that region, while the Latinate versions of the gods are intellectualized concepts instated from the top-down, as instruments of political control. I am of course no Academic, but then again, neither are most Academics; many of those who most respect Socrates, Socrates would spit upon.
So yes, in a way i am saying that a Roman square is not a Greek square, even if only in the minds of its philosophers.

Marcel Ruijters said...

Ibrahim: on second thought... The examples you give of art-exploring comic artists (such as Al Colombia, whom i like) seem to rather deconstruct the narrative in order to be more "art-like" (IF that was the incentive at all). As in: less is more. (which i oppose to)

Now, how to make a case for a solid, accessable narrative in comics without sounding like a reactionary? Hmm.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

To reply simply to your abstraction of 'less is more,' leaving Colombia aside for fear of ending up knee-deep in the Intentional Fallacy:
certainly, the less-is-more aesthetic is a puritanical, thrifty, mean thing. It serves merely to underline the current cultural elitism ( it is odd how even performances of musical works from the baroque era are, through the graphic design of its posters, 'retconned' to fit a fashionable minimalism).

It can be argued that narrative in comics *is* art-like. The only way to perceive a narrative is through the art. So for art to be anything other than Art-like would be counter to the nature of the medium.

Not every emotion or drama needs to be elided or subtly alluded to instead of shown, but the usual on-the-nose directness of comics does not make for a solid accessible narrative, either.

Awhile back we discussed Francois Bourgeon's Compagnons du Crepuscule or what's it called. Now there's a fine example of a work that tells a solid tale without sacrificing subtlety, and more importantly, without mimicking literature or film.
Any other examples you can think of?

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Ibrahim, I saw that you printed part of a Nerval poem which I’ve known by heart for several years…
I can write in English. It’s OK.

Yes, I’m not criticising the historical Dada movement or early twentieth century avant-garde but the way it was comprehend and used by artists to establish their names.

No, I didn’t suggest that Dada justified an art which is over formalised. I value formal approaches. I’m pointing out, for example, that the formal construction “anti-art” when used by official art leads to discrimination.

At first, anti-art described attitudes and works of art which didn’t fit the art standards of the time. Similarly, nowadays many underground spaces aim at defending expressions “which are not visible in the mainstream art”. Anti-art aimed at exploring fields which would be regarded as despicable by most people.

But the formal construction of this concept led to many imbecilities. Anti-art suggests that such category as “everything that is not art” is meaningful. In mathematics such thing could exist but not in the real world. Even in mathematics infinite sequences can diverge. Reality isn’t made of associated objects. It is far more complex. There are too many relations. There are intimacies which cannot be included in global categories.

The way anti-art is constructed (anti+art) implies too many antilogies and too many tautologies. It necessarily leads to universality or critique of universality. It is bland and oversized.

For example, when Ben stated “everything is art”, it wasn’t that clever. The way museums took this for granted was ridiculous. He said: “Art is art” which is tautology. “Anti-art is art” which is antilogy. “Then everything is art”. So, it suggested that reality could be described by logical objects such as “this speck of dust plus everything that is not this speck of dust”. Some people would say then “if everything is art then nothing is art”. This is cheesy and philosophically weak.

At the beginning of twentieth century, one would believe that everybody could be an artist (Picasso and Duchamp did). But the way this idea was conciliated with anti-art was presumptuous. In the case of Beuys sacrificial practices, art could be “his” life. But, in general art cannot be life because anyone cannot be the medium of artists. As a consequence, the attributes of peoples, objects which condition their intimacies and personalities, cannot be artist’s mediums. My body cannot be labelled “art”. Neither could my belongings. The post-Dada stated: “art is life” “everything is art” “anything is art” “nothing is art”. It wasn’t ethical but egocentric and unquestioned consequences of the formal construction of the word anti-art.

The Physis has nothing to do with art, creation or composition.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

How very Aristotelian.
Yes, that's the ancient pagan and common modern way of thinking: nature growing 'by itself.' Unfortunately however, i do not, in this case, agree with our Philosopher. To me, Nature is nothing but art, composition, creation. Yes, i am of that persuasion, but please do not think i will utilize that admission as a means to sidestep discussion, i merely bring a...different vocabulary, however unfashionable.

If you propose that your body or belongings cannot be labeled 'art' you are implying that art is an intrinsic thing, and not a label?

Marcel Ruijters said...

Ibrahim: Bourgeon's work aspires to be literary and is quite self-confident as such. It seeks no legitimacy as some work of art. There are plenty of examples in that category. I cited a few examples in a more experimental vein and it struck me that they tend to deconstruct their narrative. In comics, there often seems to be some kind of battle between word and image, especially when lesser artists are seeking to step out of the medium's conventions.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

There is, Marcel, hardly any point in a work of visual art attempting to be literary, in the strictest sense of the word. Even if letters are, in a way, pictures, pictures are not letters.

Or, what is literature? Serious, complex, character-driven storytelling? Bourgeois self-affirmation? Is it a genre?

Well, i hope you do not think me an apologist for that lesser artist trying to step out of the medium's conventions...although questioning a few conventions here and there certainly won't hurt the medium.

A deconstructed narrative is still a narrative.

Marcel Ruijters said...

Sure, but is it any good?

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Well, what's good of it is good, and what is not isn't, obviously- the degree of deconstruction is no measure of quality; but in Colombia's case, the form of the narrative itself ( 'decomposing' as it is) becomes a metaphor, an added layer of meaning to the work, and that's a tool more traditional & plot-centered ways of storytelling are missing out on.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

It seems there are two parallel discussions, here… about six years ago, I tried to deconstruct narrative in my comics by adding several levels with different points of view and different levels of language, but it was a failure. It didn’t sound right.

Ibrahim, Well… I used the word "labelled” because it is pejoratively connoted and because, in this context it induces reification. I could have written “identified as” or “qualified as”.

The assumption that art could be intrinsic seems quite difficult to answer. I’ll have to think about it. Maybe, in some sacrificial practices it is?

I’m criticising the statement “anything could be art” from an ethical point of view. I’m pointing out that it is intrusive to include all that live in statements about culture or art, whatever art is. As objects that we use define who we are, the statement “anything could be medium” may lead to importunate practices and meddlesome relationships.

Total art is far too Wagnerian, isn’t it?

Knowledge isn’t grounded according to a global scheme but is subjective, complex, changing and relative. It is partly rooted in our attempts at harmonising ourselves, relieves, catharsis. When art is approached globally, as it is in contemporary mainstream view, it leads to fragmentation of knowledge because global categories aren’t as subtle as subjective specific signification. (In French when we broach knowledge we have nuances which don’t exist in English; the word “savoir” link knowledge and savour, taste). It is impossible to brutally change the structure of the brain each time fashionable artists pretend that radical global changes should be applied to culture. Artists can express what ever they want. But I find they just become scarecrows and charlatans when they pretend that their attempts could give lessons to culture as a whole. I’m quite sure global approaches don’t transform us as fast and harmoniously as specific work.

Establishment appropriated and blurred early twentieth century avant-gardes. Individuals liked to question art as a whole. The artists were compelled to express according to the anti-art/Art antagonism which makes impossible any specific expression, blunts wit and mocks subjectivity.

During the renaissance artists convinced rich and powerful people that art pursued a lofty aim. Then twentieth century curators presented modern artworks in the historical infrastructures or in the cultural field of old fine arts, in order to take over.

The word “Art” was a substrata: it lost its ancient definition and opened to new meanings. What happened in the word was translated in social structure and repartition of artists. They changed “fine arts”, which is a plural noun for “modern art” or “contemporary art” which are both singular. Our monotheist cultural determinism weighted. Their aim wasn’t to add new arts but to substitute fine arts with what the most charismatic artists, critics and curators would call Art. I abstain to question what this singular noun, art, means. I don’t want to be one of their henchmen. I can explain what I pursued in my work. But I will never pretend anything about what art is. Many fragile art practices don’t tolerate the weight of meta-art-bombastic-truth.

It implied new phantasms of power: it was fascinating to feel that “new” Art could both symbolically destroy historical fine arts and inherit their assets. The combo capital A art anti-art was so smug. New cultural authorities needed heraldic bearings.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Gaspard, thank you for finally and comprehensively answering my question of 42 comments back ( "which prejudices are those & does your work counter or adress them?"). You have been most patient with me, i must say.
By no means would i want to drag this on indefinitely, although i have enjoyed the conversation a great deal, but i can't help but note that your assertion of being willing to "explain what [you] pursue in [your] work" but not "anything about what art is," is a bit like saying "i know where i'm walking to, but i refuse to describe what walking is." It sounds unintentionally disingenuous, because you have very clear ideas about what art is *not*, although i certainly understand the sentiment.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

I strictly never wrote: "I know where I'm walking to, but I refuse to describe what walking is".

I abstain to write what art is because I don’t want to hurt intimacies. It is impossible to know what art is because it often has intimate raison d’être. General Art ranting is meddlesome. I reject that art should be a unique category because it leads to fragmentation of knowledge. I don’t believe in modernity but in transitional paradigms. I don’t believe in monolithic oversized statements but in specific relations. I value metaphors which regard cultures as ecosystems.

It is very annoying that you never discuss the philosophical points that I developed although you quote my simple provocative sentences. It seems that you didn’t want to understand what I wrote.

I said to you, I believe Art became a singular noun because it aimed at taking over. The term “Contemporary art” appeared during the modern period (1910). It had global views on culture. Its aim wasn’t to invent new arts but to define a unique category. The white wall hegemony is a consequence of this original intention.

There are serious academic writings about the authoritarian function of modern ornament and abstraction. There is a famous thesis which I can quote if you want to.

My work doesn't belong to Art but to arts. I can't write what other people's art practices are because I believe that people should be self directing. My orientation is related to ethical writings, Kant’s theory among others.

The way you substitute what I said with what you think I suggested shows that you are not that fond of self-determination and free will after all. It is unfair.

It is very annoying that you pretend that I wrote about what art is not. I criticized the way defining the singular noun “Art” was rooted in phantasms of power. I’m criticising the discourse of people who became authorities. I'm showing that it leads to discrimination. I didn’t write about what Art is not. I entirely reject the use of the single noun “Art”. So I couldn’t write about what it is not.

One likes Contemporary art but contemporary Art doesn’t like them.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Here you were very insulting: “because you have very clear ideas about what art is *not*”

It is not ethical to make me say something that I absolutely don’t want to.

One likes contemporary art but contemporary art doesn’t like them.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...


You are right. You never strictly wrote that you knew where you're walking to but refuse to describe what walking is. I, on the other hand, never strictly wrote that that's what you did write. I made a comparison, that's all.

I also never said that i am fond of free will or self-determination ( but now that you mention it, i can briefly say i am fond of it the way i am fond of huge piles of money: yet i am quite sure i have neither the one nor the other). So if it is putting words in another's mouth that you object to- lead the way, mon frère.

Now, as to your philosophical points:

You say that you refuse to define art, yet you impute it 'views' and an 'aim,' which is going as far as saying it has a will and a mind, even.

I cannot, by writing what i think you implied by saying what you did, make you say something that you didn't. Hypothetics cannot be ethical or unethical.

I am sorry i cannot make two separate concepts out of one word merely by capitalizing one letter; it confused me a bit and no doubt made me avoid replying properly-
But i understand what you write. I know that the links between authoritarianism and modern art are present, and proven. It is no coincidence that the exhibition of American Abstract Expressionists toured Europe at the height of the Vietnam war. Yet it is my point ( which i hope you'll either concede to or counter with arguments) that this fact-of it being used as propaganda- however vile it is, does not devalue the work of, say, Barnett Newman, because surely he, just like you, was merely thinking of making his art, not Art?

Speaking of fairness, don't you think it quite unfair to deny such a large section of artists working today their validity, becuse they happen to work within the context of 'contemporary art'?

And finally-& this is my central question i guess- why should we give up what is useful, just because it has been used for aims that are not to our liking? Authoritarianism also uses language- do we cede it to them, or use it to our own end?

Your art is contemporary, too, Gaspard ( 'with/of the times'), whether you like it or not.

Again, i intend no insult.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

All right, then. Sorry.

After all, I’ve already thought about presenting my stuff in contemporary art establishment. But I’ve never actually tried.

Here in Grenoble, they made an outsider (self-taught) exhibition in the context of established contemporary art. All selected artists were graduated. There was no self taught-artist.

Duchamp was self-taught.

My work is contemporary but it is doesn’t’ belong to the field of “contemporary art”. It belongs to the field of arts. I’m a living artist; it doesn’t mean I’m a contemporary artist.

The usage of the term “contemporary art” is related to the context of some contemporary art practices but not all of them.

Loads of living artists envy the contemporary art world. They use the word “contemporary” to qualify their practice because they search relief: they want to believe that they are part of “contemporary art”, but it is illusory.

Dada wanted to destroy art. After all, that was a good idea.

alkbazz said...

Ibrahim, I don't want to fight with you, mostly by interent way which is to me the worst communication road, so i'm trying to answer clearly.

So... you're interested by recent artform in comic, in opposition with (let's say) classical Tintin/Crumb comic... am I right? This is what I understood. And you ask on how much we're into this, in opposition with classical comic, maybe? Like comic is art, not only superficial entertainment, to say that simply

I answer I'm not. Actually I consider this contemporary comic art speech as a new paradigm which is all around here, from scholars to students. Some are very good and I really appreciate works like from Dunja Jankovic or Marc van Elburg. Really. I'm sorry for I don't know yours so I can't say. But in general way I'm not interested in for myself, and I really don't care if comic (in general) is not "Art", if this means following modern "art plastique" rules. I'm not "plastician", I prefer painting, comic or music.

To me "art plastique" is an analysis of work/art, it's a way of thinking, making intellectual discussions with yourself, and with those who find it "interesting". I passed by that younger, and I decided to let it away like a tool you can use time to time. But to me this sounds/looks boring by itself, I consider all artform englobing all that thinking, and a piece of art show me this undirectly. Illustrating the intellectual road you had, to me is boring. But ok legitimate! It's just that being "too much traditionnal" is nowadays like being "too much contemporary" few decades ago.

I disagree when comic ask for Art status, cause I want Art to became art instead. I don't think talking pages and pages is making anything more Art than Art.
Maybe I already said this, maybe I haven't said more, or not clearer, but i don't know cause you said nothing. so i don't know.

I posted a comic few days ago I noone said anything about it so I don't know what you're thinking, I am not even sure that anyone is behind these screens...

(Oh and yes about greek i said the opposite of what i wanted, what i mean is "our" occident is chil of greek, more than orient is (for the reasons i said). But of course greece is greece, not latin, not oriental. Why are you making opposition Latin/Greek the way you do? Latin had exactly the same gods/rituals. Orientalist did bring monetheism in this world, not latin.)

that was my last attempt to discuss on here, ciao and peace

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...


Sorry if i made it seem i was ignoring you?
The comic is lovely, it put me in mind of leafing through the Heavy Metal (which as an import was totally outside of my price range) as a kid.

...yes, but how do you know *you* are behind the screen? (Quantum horror)

As i argued before, i don't think greek/latin gods are the same because the cultures were vastly different. As to art, you seem to be pretty much on the same page with Gaspard, so my answers to him are applicable here too.

Gaspard: of course, YES to all you're saying there. Naturally i would be naive to assert that my work or that of my studio colleagues is actually a legit part of Contemporary Art. None of us have been to Dubai. Contemporary Art is Art Basel Miami, not what i'm doing here.
Yet i maintain that no one must allow this to cut off one's own perceived lineage or tree of influence, anymore than an immigrant should balk along with far-right cries of 'go back to your own country!'

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Well… I have some drawings in the collection of a Parisian contemporary art benefactor. He published a book with my drawings and poetries.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Your point being?

alkbazz said...

Yaketiyak ! His point is "yes i can ironically admit what you say"

Ibrahim you're not fair from the beginning. Your question is provocative "hey you're all doing this what about that", which is creating opposition where there's not, cause noone's here's completely into "popular imagery" neither in "contemporary XXth c".
You said you want to talk aesthetics but you quote Duchamp and ElGreco in the same one "contemporary" field... This is contemporary retroactive politic, not a proper aesthetic. Why being surprised then by political reaction? Your opposition you define is political aspect of art : tradition/popular rules versus creative modern freedom redifining everything.
I don't think anyone from this blog is attached to any of these opposite, both of them which became mainstream field of art, maintain in opposition by this same mainstream system. I even think that all of us are somewhere inbetween comic tradition and contemporary art/thinking, and if we approach one side it's with intentionnal meaning.

this is what's unfair there, making reproof of what we answer by using your own arguments. "Hey what do you prefer of this and that?" "oh I prefer that" "what? but that doesn't exist you stupid"

there was one contemporary in various times in history, that's political position to discredit everything else except yourself and yours. I don't know what we do all there but i swear we're all unpolitical in that field. So yes we do what we have to do and let others fighting for the empty chair in dictionnary of art.

to me sounds like you're looking for yourself into us, your own litterature definition, comic definition, contemporary definition and so on... so my question is : what is tactic in art? what is contemporary art to you? which tactic is specifically so contemporary art ? which one are not ? what is contemporary aesthetic which is in duchamp and in elgreco?

or maybe all of this is Hey stupid lowbrow rednecks punks, do you know real Art ? i-know-it's-nothing-that-you-know-cause-it's-what-i-said-it-is

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

So you get to decide what is or is not "proper aesthetic" but if i proffer such definitions i am belittling you?
What can i say? I do feel you are making less of an effort to be inclusive than others here. My original post speaks of 'us,' while you seem to push me ( gently, but nevertheless) outside of the group, as an elitist or attacker? Marcel and both you and Gaspard replied to my question, giving me wonderful insight in your practice which i would not get from just looking at your drawings, and i am thankful and honoured for being allowed this peek into the kitchen, as it were.
As to you final paragraph; those are fighting words, son. And that's okay: i'm from an immigrant working-class background: i'm used to fighting for every square inch of existence; i just did not expect to have to do it here.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

Well, I wasn't that sarcastic after all. It is ironical.

I recently asked this contemporary art benefactor to financially support my art collective. Actually, he believes that living artists are contemporary artists. The term “contemporary art” is double edged. It both includes and rejects living artists. I prefer to be realistic than fake positively. Several of us, here, are linked to the contemporary art institution. No worry.

As I said I’m very sceptical about various aspects of contemporary art. I’m searching for intellectual arguments and proposals which would negate its assets. I clumsily wrote some of them in theses comments. In French contemporary art schools, in the 1970s, it was forbidden to draw. When my uncle studied, he was not allowed to. Nowadays, the persons who pretend they make “contemporary drawing” manage to draw according to the spirit which despised and made authority on drawing. Classical, expressionist, realist, cartoon, surrealists, teenage drawings are rejected. Why would I like to be a bootlicker of this movement which forbade drawing and painting?

Dada became contemporary art’s favourite bow-wow. Let’s be open-minded.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Yes, it's quite ridiculous. First they forbade drawing so then when they reinstated it as a legitimate form its powers were drastically reduced by the incompetence of its practitioners.

'Living art' is a good paradigm.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

The term “living art” may refer to furnishing design as in « living rooms », so I don’t think it works. And in French “art vivant” is associated with theatre, dance, etc.

alkbazz said...

I know my words are sometimes stronger than I am, sorry morning mood, probably because being myself working-class, not immigrant but for sure out of respectful class ^^

If we need to have a discussion we need to agree on definition at least the time needed. It's not that I'm attached to them or that I agree but we need to understand each others. Then both Gaspard and I are french so we probably got different ones considering other countries. That's maybe why we understood/answered on same level.

Because to me Contemporary Tactic isn't aesthetic, I needed to understand that you used this word for that. I won't discuss this but I needed to know. And to be honest I don't really know what you mean here, if everything quoted isn't what you mean! To me Al Columbia is contemporary, maybe it's not "really" new but it's contemporary intent for sure, this is exactly contemporary tactic.

To me (and collectors i met) CA is after 1960 when appeared new artform in artworld (means galleries). This one I can't exactly define but it's all un-aesthetic. I say no specific aesthetics, doesn't mean there's none. Actually they are all there but in this mirrored point of view... doing medieval painting without medieval meaning for example, but also destroying painting and questionning aesthetics is contemporary. But it's not contemporary tactics (aesthetics), contemporary tactics is using tactics out of context. Doing anything else is retrograde (mean "using a specific aesthetic"). That's why comic isn't Art, cause of aesthetic slavery (it's not my point of view here uh!)

Is there a specific contemporary aesthetic ? Dada ? which one ? objects ? industrial aspect ? I don't know! We all here use defined aesthetic, i saw yours and i don't think (for what i've seen) that's contemporary ones. So your contemporary tactic should be somewhere else, right? narrative forms etc ?

then i ask, yes, honestly, what is tactics you want to talk about ? what's yours which you consider as contemporary ones ? What's your answer to your question ? Just for me to understand what you have in mind.

We are all here "young" contemporary artists (not Contemporary Artists). Question is more what kind of tradition are we still attached to than reverse (irony here). Cause of course we can't define what we do, that is viewer job to me. I'm never trying to understand that, I can't start working with a specific idea on what it will be. I have no idea of what I'm doing, I'm walking yes but I'm not looking how it work

I recently lived this situation where a workshop (for doing a book & an exhibition) became a conference for thinking and nothing real appeared except fighting. Questionning what we did for years just became a fight because by doing so we made exact opposite of what we did! This is contemporary attitude and I admit I hate that. This discussion looks like that right now in a way. Vocabulary versus vocabulary versus antivocabulary and so on, it's just sewing words.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Well the negative defintion of a contemporary tactic would indeed be the (ha ha) an-aesthetic you mention, and for which i have neither use nor patience. I actually posted my original query because i'm curious about any possible positive angles.
I like to approach narrative in comics the way one would approach making a work of installation art, to work on all the constituent parts as visual elements, with the system/straitjacket of plot & character removed, but that's a fairly obvious one.

Alkbazz's "absurd vacuity used as a mirror" is a nice suggestion, although very meta. Hard to escape meta these days...

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

Another thing- has there ever been an Eaten By Ducks group exhibition recently, featuring works by all contributors? A full EBD salon?

alkbazz said...

let's think andy warhol then. 1960s. what's the tactic? multiplication, industrial printing technic, food and commercial design... that's craft from usual world, "popular art". one of the biggest fight for xxth c art is demystification, desacralisation of the object. making Art like comic is supposed to be "art", popular stuff. i mean as object cause as a personn (idol) it's not admitted yet ^^ since that (not only but ok?) any/everything is Art. so... the aesthetic of CA is (was?) ours. et vice versa

oh and no, no collective yet, but we talked about it some time ago...

Marcel Ruijters said...

Gaspard: i am simply astonished to hear that drawing was banned at french artschools in the 1970s. I never knew and would not have guessed.
The art in french comics, even the really mediocre segment, is quite accomplished. On a much higher level than in the Low Lands anyway. Yeah, comics must have escaped the doctrine, because Not Real Art. Wow.

And: EBD collective show. Yes. Good to bring it up again.

Ibrahim R. Ineke said...

I have space available, first half of 2016, here in The Hague. Mostly floor space, though. But that's okay i guess- no white walls! I'll post a call for submissions soon.
Let's do it.

Gaspard Pitiot said...

White walls are ok. White cube hegemony isn’t.