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Monday 08.21.06

« Biennial Artists Speak #2 | Main | Blogging the process »

Surf's up on charisma?

Here are some of the better recent art bits involving charisma out there:

The sarcastically charismatic Joe Queenan writes about Ron English in the Guardian.

Donald Kuspit's Girodet piece on Art Net raised my appreciation for the artist and his use of "charisma" but I'll still take David any day. This kind of pandering still makes me queezy.

This thread on Art Dish about Portland's proliferation of art radio and its various cults of personality is interesting for its discussion of things that Portlanders' take for granted (and sometime bemoan). Cults of personality only have meaning when serious ideas are behind them, then act as advertised or better yet, exceed expectations.

Coupling persona with activities of consequence creates a kind of civic agenda and frames the discussion. In this case Portland is in the midst of defining itself as an art city. But what kind of art city, one that rewards bluster over content and attendance over probing intellectually relevant cause and effect scenarios? The two go hand in hand but the ratios of content to promotion are very important. Id rather hear intelligent provocation backed up by actions and a track record, over posturing and endless promotion. This could apply to hundreds of art scene entities here.

The problem is the more generalist the media source the more they will focus on the least common denominator for their audience, which will usually be persona. I think the best example was Jennifer Gately's 1 pager in Portland Monthly a few months ago, pretty much a harmless bit of cheese that told us nothing. (btw. Camela that tennis pun? "Love at first sight"...) Still in no way did I consider it definitive of either Gately or Camela Raymond in any way but an excuse to take a photo and publish it.

Yes, persona does expand the rather narrow scope of the art world but all demagoguery eventually leads to polarized camps and conflict (its important to turn it into critical discussion rather than tabloid propaganda). I remember when the YBA's were still young, Hirst was very generous and built up more than just his own career. I personally differ with focusing so much on playing to the media's expectations of a bad boy image, but it served a purpose in his case. In general what I like most about Portland is how people tend to look at what others do above all else. Portland is a practical place that is trying to define what a 21st century city can be... not through buildings as much as by the activities of its citizens. So yes, there will be a cult of personality in the model Portland has adopted, but the idea behind PORT is to help refocus the debate on critical thinking through honest subjective evaluations. Considering the # of readers (which has continued to grow even during the summer with most art schools are out of session) we must be doing something right. Really the trick is to be honest and up front, everyone has a bias. The trick is to present content intelligently and provide a coherent rationale.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on August 21, 2006 at 11:40 | Comments (0)


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