"If you bake some bread in a museum space it becomes art, but if you do it at home you're a baker." M. Abramovic via wsj.com
Fair enough now, James Franco is making art. That makes sense. Is nothing new really, for a hit actor to get bored, and the Wikipedia article for James already states him as actor, film director, screenwriter, film producer, author, painter, and performance artist. He has been the face of Gucci and on the cover of Candy, and I've been told he's teaching at New York University and has plans for music too. So well, I pleasantly visited his first solo exhibition in Berlin during Easter, and found myself curiously well-disposed. It was a very simple, undeniably seasoned Freudian concept, but it was explored; and shapes were pure without getting conceptual, which is something an improvised artist should always avoid. It didn't give me an impression of haughtiness, and I thought he must really have cared about the subject if he carried it out when he didn't really need to, when people loved him anyway and despite all the critics that he must have received (and should, because that's just how it works. there's a price for fame and that's not to do things light-heartedly anymore. Being worshiped entails responsibility). Or maybe he just did it because he could but I'd respect that even more. There are a lot of people who do things they care about, few of us instead do things just because they can. Feelings are just so easy to follow. So yeah, I found myself more condescending than I would have want while walking through Peres Gallery, here's just a bit of what I found:
James and Terry, via gossipando.it
James and Terry, via gossipando.it
Then came the whole invisible-art thing, and that was harder. Not because of the thing itself because obviously, Yves Klein was selling empty spaces back in 1959. And that was art, it was. It's harder now not to feel some kind of arrogance behind this. Before something like that one would expect some kind of strong belief, a philosophy, a faith even. And it's sad to say, but it just feels like James doesn't have the time to do that. Doing without caring about critics is good, is brave, is rebellious. Sometimes though, it comes to hint to some supposed self-superiority, which is disturbingly unjustified.
Now let's just forgive James as we always do with pretty people and move on to think a bit about MONA itself. Their website says:
"The Non-Visible Museum is an extravaganza of imagination, a museum that reminds us that we live in two worlds: the physical world of sight and the non-visible world of thought. Composed entirely of ideas, the Non-Visible Museum redefines the concept of what is real. Although the artworks themselves are not visible, the descriptions open our eyes to a parallel world built of images and words. This world is not visible, but it is real, perhaps more real, in many ways, than the world of matter, and it is also for sale."
"As these non-visible works of art are bought, exchanged, and resold, they open our eyes to the unseen universe that exists at every moment, and we can share that universe. It is like finding the code beneath. We exchange ideas and dreams as currency in the New Economy."
I'm afraid it won't work. I feel like this unfortunately lacks the poetry and dignity it carried 50 years ago; I feel we're not ready for this anymore. Where once there was nobility, there is now some kind of creepy Second Life economic heritage. It isn't about the money though, and it's not really about ethics. This is still a fashion blog; nobody could convince me that these aren't worth $ 1,275 and I think we all know by now how expensive could be cultural value. The difference though, is that with a fashion item as well as with Yves's spaces what interest and excites the buyer and the seller too it is and was still the purchase, overpriced, invisible, but there, that. With MONA's buyers instead it all seems more political if I may say, more like business. They are supporting, defending, sponsoring, promoting; has this anything to do with art?
"Also, I wanted to note that I bought Franco et al's art because I want to promote the benefits of bigger brands sponsoring new media artists and social media art (or Internet projects). My patronage is funding Franco's project but it is equally a sponsorship; it is a marketing tool to publicize my own projects. Sponsoring a social media art project allows a brand or individual to attach their name to a project wherever it appears online, co-create, gain agency and credibility in the social media sphere and share in the buzz, audience, and cultural impact of a work."
"I hope that my purchase of "Fresh Air" will provide support to my thesis about the economic value of Internet projects and self-publishing in the "New Economy," as well as provide additional exposure to my projects and artwork."
She just spent $10,000 on fresh air and still she can barely breath.
Yves Klein Zone de sensibilité picturale immatérielle 1961, both pictures via tumblr
Now, just to bring all this back to fashion, few images from a long editorial on Ponystep Magazine, an homage to Yves Klein's blue Anthropometries (and what's smarter than blue nowadays?):
Sophia Lie, Emily Senko, Julia Dunstall, Petey Wright, Eric Watts, Bryce Mathias, Sam Waldman by Phil Poynter; see the whole editorial here