Some things recently finished.
While there are many annoying things about the millennial generation, the concept of the individual as a brand is one of the worst. Branding spans time and requires consistency – the very idea of an individual being a brand would mean a lack of personal growth and a complete adoption of rules that never change. A great brand needs something iconic, none of which any of these people are. The modern icon is a red hat.
Iconography is an incredible thing. It’s a language that transcends the limits of the everyday; distance, capacity, reason. Today being Easter is a good example: that cross will always bring to mind a reaction in someone, no matter what they believe.
The iconography of evil is also just as interesting. The swastika is the most prominent example; it’s a visual mark that represents many things but because of the Nazi brand, it now is forever marred in the despicable actions of Hitler’s Germany. Similarly, the Hitler mustache is rarely, if ever, worn by men. This is the effect of the Nazi brand.
Evil in America is represented foremost by the Confederate flag.1 And while I can’t imagine Donald Trump sitting around thinking, “I really need to give the racists in America an as-of-yet-unsoiled icon they don’t have to be ashamed to wear in public,” it’s certainly what he did. In the future the Make America Great Again red cap will have the same public stigma as the Stars and Bars.2
In every feasible way, the MAGA Red Hat is a New Icon. The people who wear it are representative of a train of thought that will, one way or another, decide the future of this country. The dangers of brand association are most apparent in times like this, and why control under a single idea (state or corporate, to be honest) is never a way to live.
Reconciling what it meant to be an anti-capitalist living in the Modern West, and especially America, has been a definitive time in my life (it has taken a while). As an artist, capitalism represents a severe form of exchange: something completely human (an idea expressed creatively) in exchange for something completely inhuman (money). Most workers are asked for at least one of their own, and most important, natural resources: time.
American capitalism has distilled itself into the essence of identity. What children study, what they are pressured to choose early on in life, what they are inundated by through young adulthood, are all social pressures based on the influence of money and not a personal truth. So while plenty of people build successful lives around these constructs, raise families of their own and the like, an emptiness remains among what was promised: Is this it?
Money will always interfere with quests for truth because it is a falsehood. It is a wholly invented and controlled yet singularly universal system of exchange. Deep down everybody knows this at some level (other maniacal institutions like organized religion tend to at least impress the dangers of gold, but usually it’s the wizard stories that attract an audience). It is not a natural phenomenon but we let it control the wonders and possibilities of our world. Money dictates the fate of all and for many it is the least but most important part of that life.
The argument for capitalism and globalism is that it stopped world war. However the tertiary wars fought by the Russians and Americans in the Middle East are just as destructive; they’re just easier to ignore. (Not to mention the irony of bin Laden’s CIA training and that these ‘off-site’ conflicts have now brought the world to a terrifying precipice of control.)
As capitalism threatens to destabilize western democracy – at which point I wholly imagine large, recognizably stable corporations to become ‘safe spaces’ and eventually ensure a global corporate state – it’s driving most of America mad. And I think it’s because everybody at some level understands the great lie that exists under all this horror; that somehow we sold our souls for this, long ago, and probably never had an option otherwise, and all that collective negative energy of feeling restricted by such a fabrication is beginning to show some teeth.
There is something incredibly dangerous about a world that is this socially accelerated. If everybody thinks things are coming apart at the seams, they’ll likely find a way to split.
I may have changed my mind on Twitter. Since the service debuted I’ve been vehemently against it, because who really gives a fuck about 140 characters.
Now though, I’m beginning to realize why it’s poignant. There’s just no point to writing out extended blog or Medium posts. Discourse and any sensibility in logical, extended arguments are self-indulgent in this day and age. I don’t know many people in this fight willing to change; however I have noticed how many are confused by trying to figure out which side they are on.
Donald Trump has been useful for one thing, and that is showing who actually has personal conviction and who simply adheres to what their side of the media lines tell them. Those of us on the left who are anti-war find themselves aligned with Trump supporters on staying out of Syria, much the way there was an alignment against the TPP. This isn’t left and right as neoliberal America would define it so much as it’s anti-capitalists and anti-globalists finding similar ground. If Congress had more than two parties, this is where dealmaking would happen and governing would get done; differing ideologies need not be opposed at all sides.
But that just seems too complex for now. Class war is in full effect. It’s the capitalists vs the anti-capitalists for the allegiance of the middle; it will all come down to which side those who are too lazy to choose one are willing to die for. Fucked.
official live debut tonight
more to come
22×30, not there yet
almost, getting there
(beginning a slow jam with Lorraine, Doug and Ben which grew into a cacophony of feedback and guttural yelling, fuck a day of rest)
All of the people I know who are artists right now feel invigorated, terrified, liberated, endangered. Full of life and energy. Everybody else is having a panic attack.
I feel like for most of my lifetime artists have been warning about the dangers of Western capitalist imperialism growing out of control. Now they are in full bloom and every institution, from the art world to the Oval Office, seems to be under public review. They maintain control only because a viable alternative has not yet been discovered.
Anxiety is a drive to create something, and I feel the collective panic of the West is a general understanding We Need To Build A New Thing but it has to be completely new and at an unprecedented scale of public accomplishment. (It must not be Silicon Valley neoliberalism.)
It’s a strange time; the world is waiting for a Phoenix, and meanwhile seems content with watching everything burn.
Marshall McLuhan called advertising corporate art. While he’s not wrong, I think his early views of advertising were based in an era where the ad remained a promotion of a product. Products in most ads these days are at least second to brand narrative.1 Enter the Fearless Girl, an abhorrent piece of corporate propaganda which has taken the concept of advertising to an entirely new level of cynicism.
Cara Sheffler did a great job pointing out why the work is an insult to feminism, not a promotion of it. Things being equal between the sexes and all, it’s also pretty bad at a societal level.
What the statue represents is submission to the idea the fight against power exists only within the confines the powerful approve of. This idea originated in a board room and was approved in one. ‘Fearless Girl’ has a presumed acceptance of capitalism; that we may stand up to the market so long as we remain in sight of it.
With ‘Fearless Girl’ now set to remain in the Financial District, we’re witnessing what the next generation of billboards will look like: corporate art in the public space, promoting a subtle dialogue of complicity not to any inspired place of imagination, but rather financial allegiance.2
The controversial discussion on art and race going on with Dana Schutz’s painting of Emmitt Till is fascinating and intense and has no good solution. While the painting may fail because of the many valid criticisms Hannah Black offers, a call to censorship in art sets a dangerous precedent.
There’s not a ton I have to say on the subject that is not better expressed here.
I have been putting a schedule together for some summertime solo shows, which these FF jams will serve as limited previews for. Also it’s a party come out and play some music with us.