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Tuesday 11.06.07

« 2007 Rosey Awards | Main | Show Your Stuff »

Establishing an anti-establishment, comparing Rinder and Hickey

So far the two most influential art shows of the 21st century have been the 2002 Whitney Biennial curated by Larry Rinder and Beau Monde: towards a redeemed cosmopolitianism curated by Dave Hickey in 2001. The art-insider-unpopular WB was a fetished kind of amatuerism that was quickly co-opted by the arts system as a style (yet ironically got Rinder exiled), whereas conversely Beau Monde was simply too perfect as an ideal, hyper intelligent yet entertaining art show that sported grafitti art and foregrounded experience (most of the art was also big ticket). Together they signified the death knell of postmodernism (which was all about disassociation and alienation) and the reassertion of both craft and street culture as more important than the academy.

Yet, it is funny how both Hickey and Rinder are anti-establishment and yet so firmly of it. Though considering the fact that Rinder is now a Dean at CCA is more of a true institutionalist, whereas Hickey seems to enjoy the material for writing that the paradox generates. Rinder has a former CCA student show at Liz Leach right now and Hickey has a similar but bigger production show about his UNLV days at the LVAM. At one time they seemed like polar opposites but now they seem like omnipresent sides of the same coin. For example, Paul Schimmel's Ecstacy show at MOCA seemed like a followup to both Beau Monde and the 2002 Whitney Bi.

Now, there is more from Hickey and Rinder as they look back:

Tyler Green pointed out that Dave Hickey's interview in The Believer is a great read, including some provocative gems like: "There are no serious art magazines."


"Well, I came into an art world of volunteers—six thousand heavily medicated, mysteriously employed human beings who were there because they wanted to be, you know? And all they wanted was to be right—not safe, not rich, not fair, but right! Now we have this vast bureaucratic structure of support. Everybody’s a poll watcher. Nobody’s a voter."

Hilariously, the O did a pretty boring interview with Larry Rinder showing the alternate strategy to Hickey, one where academia and institutions are the answer. Rinder does a decent job with dull questions but the real gem is one of the very few times DK Row just flat out states his critical position when he asks, "You mentioned the dangers of any art scene becoming self-consuming. I think that to a degree, Portland has become a version of itself -- so self-aware of its idiosyncrasies that the authenticity is slowly disappearing." It's a load of BS and Rinder rebuffs this question pretty quickly as he should.

First off, the word "authentic" is a garbage term in arts writing now. It is used constantly but it's pure double-talk. What Row is reacting to is the fact that there are multiple art scenes in Portland, some of which have gotten very serious and don't fetish provincialism... other pockets are resentful of any success they dont share or are simply just hipsters hanging out (it's natural for a scene as large but tight as Portland's to have this). In fact pockets of Portland's scene are so serious they pretty much don't bother with petty local arts politics and instead are working on their international exposure. That isn't self consuming, that's just self awareness that is both marshaled and distilled into a very serious work that isnt just for Portland, they think and act internationally. The quote by Row just reveals how burnt out he is about an art scene that doesn't care about his approval (the scene is also bleeding edge enough to be slightly "seen/zine-that-already" with Rinder).

Right now, between 60 and 150 Portland artists are concerned about how their work will be respresented in Miami (which matters more than New York btw) and that is hardly an insincere motive. David, go to Miami, what you will notice is that Portland's scene generally looks a great deal less crass and more art for art's sake than the stuff produced other places.

Overall, Portlanders complain about our lack of institutional support but let's not forget that it creates opportunities that exist in Portland because of that vacuum. Besides backwards looking regionalist/reactionary arts coverage in the O does not foster, embolden or bring more partons to the arts. This vacuum wont last so it is important that we support serious efforts like PNCA's bid for the 511 building. Interesting how the O didn't follow up on that issue with Rinder.

Maybe both Rinder and Hickey are last gasps of the 20th century who set the tone for the early 21st century, but something tells me neither one will define what comes. They both certainly set the stage. Rinder's academic amateurism vs. Hickey's heightened aesthetic ambitions for art. Of course some artists already are at it.

Posted by Jeff Jahn on November 06, 2007 at 10:16 | Comments (3)


"The two most influential art shows of the 21st century were the 2002 Whitney Biennial curated by Larry Rinder and the Beau Monde: towards a redeemed cosmopolitianism curated by Dave Hickey in 2001." Umm, not to be overly critical, but the 21st century is not over yet.

Posted by: Amsterdammer [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 8, 2007 09:26 AM

Thanks for reminding everyone that it's still a work in progress (in truth both shows seem like ancient history).

Ill change to "so far" to avoid confusiing those who want to party like it's 2200.

I'd like to see an artist driven show like Superflat or Freeze dethrone these two... artist originated efforts are more interesting.

Posted by: Double J [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 8, 2007 09:49 AM

The Portland Art Center is going to have a good show in December. It can only be described as artist driven.

Posted by: PORTLANDunite [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2007 09:42 AM

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