Re: Entry Fee Rereredux, Exploitation, Hobbies

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Mar 12 2006 - 19:20:11 PST

First, I agree with everything Fred said in the first 5 paragraphs of his
post. Fred, you seem to have understood my comments about festivals as a
(bad) form of collective presentation as the figurative remark it was
meant to be. Thanks.

I would like to see more 'festivals' that are truly collective, open to
more people, less heirarchical, less devoted to a 'star' system. The
notion that the fees paid by aspirants subsidize the already established
people who get to submit for free is indeed warped.

In theory, I like the idea of there being more kinds of screenings, not
just eclectic festivals, but also shows curated more in depth, exploring
the work of a single artist, or a shared theme or stylistic element.
Although, where I live there aren't any screnings at all, so the point is
kind of moot.

> I will continue to object to any institution... thinking that they can
use > the work of artists for free. I have yet to
> see a defense of this reprehensible practice that makes any sense to me.

Given that the most numerous institutions that do this are public
libraries, you might check some of the writing of Benjamin Franklin for a
> If an artist declares his work doesn't survive video, how
> can you justify showing it on video?

There are several answers to this question. I have always completely
agreed that works presented in an transformed manner should be labeled as
such. I also believe that some work doesn't survive transfer from film to
digital at all, some loses a lot, some loses little, some loses nothing.
However, and this isn't PoMo at all but very old school (the artist's
intent thing, after all, is thoroughly modern): I believe the traces of
the original that remain in imperfect copies have value, perhaps even
crucial socio/cultural value. They may not be 'art', but they may lead
people to art, inspire them to make art, lead them to understand something
about art in a more profound way. That's the major thing. (This would be
showing on video and identifying the difference, of course)

A perhaps more PoMo point is that art is where one finds it, and if
someone happens to have a profound aesthetic experience watching a VHS of
Eaux d' Artifice, who am I to tell them this is totally inmvalid and they
need to see it in film? (I _would_ say, if you liked that, see it in a
good 16mm print, if you ever get the chance, you might like it more or in
a totally different way. But I don't think its a horrible thing if for
reasons of their own people don't care about this difference once they
been exposed to it.)

Another answer (not pomo but mo, since its basically Dada) is that one
valid reason for displaying art is to take a kind of purposefully creative
crap on it, or on the notion of 'high art' in general. (L.O.H.Q.) Artists,
presumably, make statements of some sort, and in a democracy every public
statement should be open to quotation for the purpose of critique. For an
extreme example, I could imagine mounting an exhibition of Italian
futurist sculpture and painting that would totally violate the artist's
intent by creating a context of shrieking protest over the connection of
modernist aesthetic ideals to facism. Of course, if i display a classic
sculpture with images of dead bodies projected on it - that is not the
scultoprs work at all, but my dialog with it. Not that I think anybody has
actually done video showings with this sort of purpose, but its a
possibility. The projection of so much film work that I've seen in video
installations in museums is so bad, someone could/should do something
creative with that badness, maybe amplifying it into deconstructing a
'bad' experimental film. Maybe doing a kind of reductio on a 'great' film
that would more of less make the point of the 'authentic' work's

> lots of outsiders with no training and
> perhaps no feeling they were even making "art" have made really great
> things.

That was my point really. I didn't mean to imply that i LIKE Grandma
Moses. But then, I don't think that much of Impressionism or traditional
portraiture before Vermeer yada yada. My point is that the culture has
recognized Moses as a legitimate artist. Personally, I'm much more
interested in Howard Finster type stuff. I merely mean to refute Marilyn's
assertion that its easy to tell a true artist from a hobbyist. Our
hobbyist (Moses) is somebody elses great artist.

> And about Cornell, Stan Brakhage recognized him as a great
> artist in a high art tradition a little earlier than you seemed to have,
> around 1955.

Well, I was 1 yr old in 1955, and at the time Brakhage was hardly an
authority whose opinion effectively marked what people in general thought
was art or not art. Our (Brakhage's, yours, mine) great artists (Cornell,
Maclaine) were somebody elses dabblers.

> if we start to talk about the "art" of fly
> fishing as a reason for not paying rentals to Kubelka or Brakhage,

we're not talking about that. people who do 'crafts' as a hobby often sell
their work at fairs or flea markets and expect to receive payment for
their work.

> Just listen to the way the average American talks
> about his favorite "hobby," and read some of the writings of any of the
> major avant-garde filmmakers, and you'll see a certain, uh, difference
> in aspirations there.

I'm not talking about 'the average American'. Most hobbies are pretty
casual. I am talking about devotees, and if you actually do listen to them
in many odd fields, you will find remarkable depth, not the world-changing
aspirations of a Maclaine or a Harry Smith necessarily, but far more
comparable to the concerns of more 'personal' artists than one might
imagine. For that matter, I'd guess fly-tying has radically changed some
people's lives, though probably the flies themselves have not changed
anybody elses life..

> Uh-oh. Now I'm starting to see the source of the problem you and I have
> had communicating, David. I assume you mean the Beatles?

Yeah there's a communication breakdown. I was referencing a raw
'primitive' form quite different from the Beatles pop polish. I meant,
initially, the Kingsmen, a group of amatuerish/inept 'musicians' who
accidentally/serrendipitously created a great work of art (the most
familiar of the many recordings of 'Louie, Louie'). (c.f Bangs, 'Psychotic
Reactions and Carburetor Dung' and Meltzer, 'The Aesthetics of Rock.') I
had thought to mention the Kingsmen specifically, but decided on a more
generic description that could embrace the Ramones, Pistols, Gang of Four
as well as the many 60s garage bands. To me, the best of this music cuts
anything Milton Babbit ever did by miles and miles and miles.

Brian Wilson, however, I often find truly sublime, especially on some of
the non-hit tracks c.f "You're so good to me." Wow, we agree on something!

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