TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT April 1984

THE CRITIC SEES THROUGH THE CABBAGE PATCH

IF YOU WANT TO REPRESENT the ’70s you can do it for a few hundred dollars with artist’s books. In the ’70s all you needed was a subway token to see graffiti.

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The ’80s need criticism. Five years ago no one read. Now one frantically scans all the frantic magazines. But if you just want to read your name, forget it. Anybody can read their name. So what’s the big deal. It’s like investing major thinking in the gimmicks of door policies. That is like just looking for your name. Don’t forget that there are phenomenal things, special effects, and other spectacles like big business behind door policies and their events. If you can’t get past the doormen, you’re still better off fantasizing about the inside than just thinking about the door policy. It is generosity to yourself not to classify it strictly under your name. It is generosity to art not to shit your strictly classifiable underdeveloped self on an art hardware or fart into the art context and think you have done it. There is nothing more boring than an infinite number of mediocre people self-expressing themselves carelessly, loquaciously. They cancel each other out. “Have you seen what I’ve been doing?” “No, I didn’t even know you existed.” If you want to be strategic, that’s not the way to go. It’s stupid to get on the bandwagon that everybody else rides yet has no horses. It’s going to take you and the wagon load nowhere.

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About reading. Don’t just look for your name. For that buy an ad and read it.

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Fame is not necessarily talent. Fame can be conferred on dummies. It’s often an appointed job, not elected by consensus. People eat famous little ones for lunch. Fame is a cannibal’s delicacy, nonchalantly consumed by the fame-makers. Fame has only one game of talent: endurance. Talent, however, has many games of fame.

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You’d think this “season” would have been about a lot more thinking than just seasonal thinking. After the amount of pictorial matter falling on us like meteorites one expects attendance to the matter. What’s the matter? When there’s a product you can’t sell thinking. When there’s no product—like in the ’70s—discourse is marketed.

I hear they’ve marketed a typewriter where you can write by staring intently at each letter in turn. Yet the most sensational computer product is the Cabbage Patch doll.

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The theme of the cabbage-patch myth is the birth of the baby. The theme of the articles here is the origins of the current picture. (Yes, the scenorama, as well.) The Cabbage Patch doll is this picture. The phenomenon of the Cabbage Patch doll © is used here in every sense: the generation, the sex education, the hatching, the supply and demand, the disruption of lineage and adoption of its variants and versions. The article is the doll is the picture. The written items are up for adoption.

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You are the very picture of the sky; you are an airplane!

Shrunken this and thats picked from the metaphoric lexicon of culture—a wizard, a fire, a bird; shit, honey, I been wearin’ an airplane for 70 years!—all are no more important than insofar as they are not incorrect. But the centripetal shrinkage, the concentration of the mark, the density of a light intense touch—almost a scratch, salable violence—all of it spun centrifugally along sensate ovals and parabolas, that’s you.

In 1968 Neil Jenney’s postabstract image paintings were threatening because they were beyond the abstract and representational rhetoric. What was abstraction to be sacrificed for? The simplest answer was, for the idea of some kind of image, a picture of something, a picture that may or may not be a representation. Jenney’s painting foreshadowed the image as it was understood a decade and a half later by a new generation of artists.

The initial perception was that an image was singular. A slew of paintings appeared with solitary motifs, putting a dot of significance into abstraction. Those little airplanes or boats or logs were little decals of image: thingies sitting on the hardware. (Thingies are always excused to exist just as they are.) In this beginning of the change from formal abstraction to image painting, the language was rudimentary; just one prop—the picture—a me-phrase, a character symbol, appearing on the stage of painting. Then the thingies multiplied; they became proprietary emblems, flags announcing the new takeover of historically frenzied, embellished, romanticized, personally reclaimed versions of signs. Images are chunks of noise, psychical blocks and soilings on clean thoughts.

A pinch of what we are, a pinch of admitting it, a pinch of expressing it, a pinch of business, a pinch of hype.

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How many artists’ careers did we have to weep over or sadly water when they tried to paint a rose and it turned out looking like a cabbage? Didn’t Gertrude Stein say enough times that “cabbage is a cabbage is a cabbage”?

“Rose is a rose is a rose” is the structure of the Modern. “Cabbage is a cabbage is a cabbage” is not that coleslaw—post-Modern.

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Dial M for Modernism and P (like in prick) for Progress—always aiming ahead of itself, and having constant staying-Power Problems, otherwise known as Cultural Crises. Then you’d better dial T for terminal terminology.

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We talked of the universe, of its creation and of its final destruction; of the big idea of the century, that is, the idea of progress and perfectability, and in general of all forms of human infatuation. On this subject His Highness was never at a loss for gay and irrefutable ironies, and he expressed himself with a subtle address and impassible humor such as I have not met with even in the most famous talkers of humanity. He explained the absurdity of the different philosophies which have up to the present time had possession of the human brain, and he even deigned to divulge certain fundamental principles whose possession and benefits I do not find it expedient to share with a single soul. He did not complain of the bad reputation he enjoys in every corner of the world, and assured me that no one was more interested in the suppression of superstition than himself, and admitted that the only time he had ever trembled for his power was the day when a preacher had exclaimed from his pulpit: “My beloved brothers, never forget when you hear people boast of our progress in enlightenment, that one of the devil’s best ruses is to persuade you that he does not exist!”
—Charles Baudelaire, “The Generous Gambler,” 1869.

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The avant-garde defines the layer of art and the art world that is in the turmoil of formulation; it’s on the edge of interaction with the world, like the buds rather than the tree trunk. This art is entangled with life whereas the slightly older art (the tree trunk) has already established its function and is commodified (wood as lumber). The other, new, is yet priceless. (Everything priceless should be sold.)

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Well you think it’s all about the new? I do too. As a matter of fact I was just practicing it. Here is a little song about it:

No, I’m not, I’m newting. . . .
He thinks I’m a bush, or a new sort of tree;
He thinks it’s somebody, but doesn’t think it’s Me,

And he doesn’t know I’m newting—
No, he doesn’t know I’m newting.
That’s what I’m doing—
Newting.

—A.A. Milne, Now We Are Six, 1927.

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Art after Art goes out” (Alexander Pope) and becomes like leaves after leaves go out and as it does the trunk grows. There are art endings, like nerve endings, and there is art like there is spine.

Avant-garde is when it is a verb and not a noun. It is a split second. Jazz was a verb—avant-garde—before it was a noun—Modern. The first jazzers used it to mean “fuck you” or “to fuck over”: jass me. Or to play games with. These jazzers turned fancy shit upside down, quadrilles topsy-turvy, shot the posture out of the military marches and twisted the sweet diatonic European art of horns and pianos and strings. They created music that said, “Oh yeah?” to propriety. They turned it out, got down, did the Funky Butt and the Truck and generally mussed up a whole lot of swell Creoles’ bourgeois pretentions.

Vanguard has not really been about newness but about the edges of culture, the hands and claws that feed the stomach with material to be digested or excluded or rejected. To say that if there’s no avant-garde then there’s no tradition is a nice, meaningful sentence, what the heck, but it isn’t saying more than that if there’s something, and if that something has no boundaries or edges, it might be very different from what it is defined as, in fact it might not really be what it is because the edges of a thing are half the definition of the thing. The vanguard historically collided with a point of uprootedness, with a loss of possible tradition, but now to look and see anything in terms of whether it is Modern or avant-garde in terms of tradition is to use terminal terminology. The eulogizers over the death of Modern and of the avant-garde are morticians.

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Post-Modern equals postmortem.

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Every time someone says post-Modernism I stop to listen to the good part of the sentence, no matter how insanely gorgeous. As a matter of course, one learns/earns a living by staking out a territory, perching in the middle of it and chirping loudly. This amounts to instant pollution, dumping certain terms into a situation as quickly as you can. So then you’re set up for a while. Everybody else is going to have to spend the next 10 years clearing the terms away, but while they’re there you’re the king of the territory. There’s something rotten about a structure that produces terminological pollution and calls it theory, like a mob-controlled waste disposal company.

Did Pier Paolo Pasolini have to be made into a pancake to prove to structuralist thinkers that shit-eating is not only regressive communion (blood into wine, shit into my mouth), the physical meandering of a Catholic intellect streamlining waste, that he was not just a radical gay flag, but that he actually was a pervert and it might be important to see perversity as a value?

These semiotician types intimidate through applying more expensive designer labels. It’s a means of holding onto power (by sequestering information), like the doctor’s wife who intimidates her friends by naming common illnesses with their Latin terms. These guys don’t really even make the labels, they assign them, consuming prevailing ideas, and, like slot machines, at the drop of an artist’s name, at the drop of a slide from a carousel in a lecture, they make them fit into a category.

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In the subway there are the people who are wearing codified outfits, those with their suits and briefcases and the others, the New York free-style schlocks with their sneakers and looks of libertine aggression. Free of the suits that designate them, they don’t have an encoded social function or persona. The same goes with the current pictures. They are kind of lumpen, wearing sneakers, esthetic sneakers; they designate a freedom from being or having been encoded, even though the canvases themselves are like insignia that their makers are artists.

Ilks of artists split the patch for a few dry spells. On return to paintingland, no matter how nouveau, they became overloved for being prodigal. The establishment polished up the empire which now exists in all its grandeur to uphold the professional identity of their creatures, the artists, the producers of their products. They designed the identity well and standardized it, with just enough differences so you can invest your love in the particulars of the one you choose. The artist as a middle-class, money-oriented entity perfectly compatible with any high profession in education, living conditions, marital status, banking habits, summer residence, and winter lectures, can boogie, put on makeup, cocktail chitchat, and use a typewriter, has a résumé, a manager, and a boss, wants to get a raise, and even knows how to slum. Pictures sneak out of them when they turn on their answering machines so they won’t be disturbed by these constant social commands and can spend a little spare time soul-and oil-pigment-searching. The evident result is a slummed, framed, raised, marketed, typewritten, and collated product. By George, how can anyone expect this to live up to church standards? Or even lofty ones? We have long lost our lofts too.

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The audience isn’t what it used to be. There’s no way you can produce or blast some big news to it. The audience essentially knows and thinks the same stuff as the professional artist. The artist is just the one who decides to spend the time executing it. There’s really nothing this type of artist can say that everybody else hasn’t already thought or even dreamt eight times.

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Art-lovers are absolutely unresolved in terms of their relationship to the subject.

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The thing about the new baby—the new pictures—is the shock of recognition instead of the shock of the new.

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Pluralism, so termed, was the lazy way to greet the baby, but no cigar. The pluralist champions of many-ness, seeing art as free-market competition, have no attitudinal depth. They end up reinforcing an assumption that lingers everywhere—that nothing matters, that everything is just something to putz around in. No cigar. Poor art, it got weeded over (and forced out of its own milieu) by standard bastards who just wanted to hide in it. Maybe this is why the current picture-making is positive. It puts emphasis on measurable art endeavors and weeds out those who have been leeching on it as a sanctuary. A person given sanctuary in a church is just a squatter, an uninvited guest. A sanctuary is an institution devised from humanitarian samaritan guilt. It is the capitol of tolerance. It deals with excess, usurpers, and the spark of probability theory saying that justness is ambiguity and vagueness, the what-one-can-never-know. That’s an idea quite similar to art. Since you never know with art, the art world becomes a big sanctuary.

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A more productive midwife was transavanguardia, so termed by Achille Bonito Oliva. He defined the terms, he enlisted the troops. But the problem was that it overextended itself in terms of territorial transpass.

Maybe it’s a classy and dignified exercise in culture to speculate. There’s no difference between speculation and fabrication lately. While I might think that I am in the process of speculation, everyone else altogether greedily laps up the very process of speculation as fabrication. The result is that anyone who is willing to spend some time thinking and put that into a certain context, or if anyone in a certain context begins to think, the process of thinking is already taken as a result, a truth, a something, a something as a good enough standard.

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After the ’70s’ slumming in ambient media (which revealed an art existence of the fringe and left the art world preempted of much art) there was an eagerness of the structure itself not only to do business, but to test itself as a viable thing. Besides, there’s always a little fetish in every artist to sniff at turpentine. It gets them high. What swept the new canvases was the experiential material they collected from their slumming. Getting down in the clubs was some of the stuff they got down in paint. They saw people rather than systems. They performed, they cut a figure, they made theater. What of the scratchy music they heard? The beat of paint, rather than its subliminal hues, is enough notation. Like rock, you don’t get the words, but you don’t need to. A roughness of texture. They didn’t want to be outlaws. Outlaws of what? How long can you be an outlaw before the clash of context ceases to spark off its own meaning and you’re stuck with one defined and its laws?

Painting: is it true or is it Memorex? It is “what becomes a legend most.”

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Everything seemed to hover magically in the air. It must have been the pollution in the air. Brush it out of the air. Paint it, with your own little hand.

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The litigious academies of the Modern tradition divest their puppet art from its strings, in due time making it absurd, inconsequential. If you don’t occasionally stop to assess who you are, you will eventually become your process. After blanking out dutifully in front of the flatness of the canvas shall we ask is culturalism ahead of Modernism?

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The present has no angle, no vantage point. It is basically frontal—our eyes make us go ahead, they are responsible for this limited vision toward the front, for our sense of progress. This shortcoming is progress’ alibi. According to the progress canons current picture-makers are just spoiled cabbages. Sinning cabbages because of their references to the devil—the Past. There are so many things we are told not to do that one just has more fun by doing them all. It dares you to blasphemy. It gives you an especially warped view of things. It also makes you more theatrical.

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Of course the sinner must repent. But why? Simply because otherwise he would be unable to realize what he had done.

The moment of repentance is the moment of initiation. More than that: it is the means by which one alters one’s past. The Greeks thought that impossible. They often say in their Gnomic aphorisms, “Even the Gods cannot alter the past.” Christ showed that the commonest sinner could do it, that it was the one thing he could do. Christ, had he been asked, would have said—I feel quite certain about it—that the moment the prodigal son fell on his knees and wept, he made his having wasted his substance with harlots, his swineherding and hungering for the husks they ate, beautiful and holy moments in his life. It is difficult for most people to grasp the idea. I dare say one has to go to prison to understand it. If so, it may be worth while going to prison.

—Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905.

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Here are pictures, no fault of their own, like souls banned for purgation, just hanging in there. I do not accept history as a “problem.” No thanks. Not me. What do you want? Art changed. Again and again when that happens the issue of the laconic, dying avant-garde is served up. Who cares? Art changed. It fills the air with energy. It fills pages of magazines, collections, and the hearts of artists. It fills the change with energy too. It energizes itself by feedback. So what if its feedback is not a well-structured symphony, as long as it energizes. So what if it is fake energy. History is extrahistorical (as is the new picture-making); it is outside of history. History is always made by those who use it.

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Belief in history is tantamount to belief in your ledger book rather than in your business.

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Did Einstein say he wanted to change the universe? No, he just made it a little more relative. This stuff makes it a little more reflective. Self-reflective. Where is self? Got lost in the semiotics of image projections?

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I see so many dwarfed self-images going out into the city; their creators never will know or think that they have a chance to create a better image for themselves.

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With the Qwip, a telephone gadget with which you can send an image over the telephone, instantly, images were transmitted as artists communicated them to one another. The flowing of pure images, unedited, unclassifiable, unmanageable according to the existing commercial structures. Thus the Qwip was the stretching exercise, the backstage rehearsal of the cast and crew. The Jerzy Grotowski exercises aimed at limbering and developing a persona with somewhat ready-made expressive gestures. Just call an image with an image—“Let’s Qwip”—and an answer would come back. The project was a tremendous impetus to working out a vocabulary with common traits.

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The image adjusts. After this adjustment, after having laid out an environment, a network of images where self was interchangeable with image, there arrived a point when to say “real” became a virtually impossible situation. From a system of images, the modern (the fashionable, rapidly collapsing and interchangeable image styles and gestalts) went to self-reflection. What might the self be now, what is its condition now? Is it there at all? Is it dead and we live our lives of self-projections, based on, projected from, a cadaver of the self? Our image projection is fueled from fossilized selves pumped up from ancient behavior mechanisms. The adjustment to image became so codified as to make one believe its projections were only there to be decoded. (So the adjustment was a true survival device.)

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The image is commodified self. The picture is a commodified image. You can’t own an image (unless perhaps it is a photograph where the negative is called an image). An image is like nature. Second nature. But you can own a picture, a memento, framed (mapped), staked out and claimed—“get the picture”; that can be yours.

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There are only two kinds of abstract art—one where the abstract form expresses something about its author, the artist, and the other where the abstraction is connected with the notion of painting itself.

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The image is the most important thing to get out. Everything else is just expedience to get the stuff out. The picture vocabulary is more infinite than the verbal one. It is more open to idiosyncracies than language, which has been the socializing glue and has the bad breath of an official communicative function.

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Ce n’est pas une image juste, c’est juste une image.
—Jean-Luc Godard

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The pinnacle of glyphic images is the tough, intricate, elite, ancient Egyptian art. There were maybe three people at any one time who could decode its meaning. There are maybe three people now who understand the meaning of one of the new pictures: the artist, the artist’s wife, and their dog. But these pictures aren’t as good as that Egyptian pinnacle.

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The artist in our age who changed the notion of the relationship between painting and photography, pictures and images, the roles of images and pictures, and the difference between them, is Andy Warhol. Warhol comprehensively illustrated the process of images in transformation; his art is about transmission.

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Pictures are like images through the grapevine. Like the game of Chinese whispers, where the words uttered mutate and distort as they are whispered around the circle of players. Never pure. Always a likeness.

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Judy Rifka has rigor though she doesn’t care where the picture is. That’s why she is naughty. Why would anybody make gigantic paintings where she depicts herself as an overgrown immense decal jumping in and out of a trompe l’oeil symbol of a picture?

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Jonathan Borofsky isolates the image as a portable motif without canvas, copying a ready-made image into an environment as stick-ons. The different shapes of his environment become devices to catch the decals.

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A picture is for the purposes of recent developments mostly a framing device, a staking out of boundaries, a borrowed historical device which is not filled with anything that originally defined it.

The canvas/screen is searching, moving around to catch the projected image. It’s a voyeur. Loitering, scavenging, consuming all the stuff we didn’t see on television because it was too socially berserk, too much like daddy really fucking the secretary and sissy hooked on smack.

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The look that is undeniably seamy, primitive, even sloppily amateurish, like gags in pictures, scores best when it is merely flung at us as camp.

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While some were building their new modernized buildings, just a few looked downward, transfixed before a glamorized pile of debris. And it was beautiful. They actually managed to point out not only that the stuff was gorgeous, but that nobody looks, that people have lost their power of vision, which is why they keep on building those new, modern buildings.

Camp is an area of esthetic activity that doesn’t go by progress. Camp focuses on the trappings and codes of culture as a central issue. It is a reversal of the bourgeois conceit of progress; camp maintains culture, which is progressively wiped out, replaced by the new.

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There are only two brands of camp: concentration and New York.

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David McDermott, who manufactures genuine genre oil paintings and has a portrait-commission business and wants to paint his way into society: “The question is not whether I would become famous, but with whom I would become famous . . . Painting is an old business. I just exaggerate its anachronism. Michelangelo was the first modern interior decorator. Contemporary painting is the grandchild of the interior decorating business, whereas this ‘newting’ is the grandchild of Thomas Edison and his invention business. There have been two tracks of art . . . mushing up the two types of traditions.”

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I was first introduced to Dashiell Hammett by Humphrey Bogart. We had a very pleasant time, naturally, but I must admit I wasn’t aware how fortunate I really was. Now I see how everybody else compensates for the lack of such a lovely afternoon: by painting pictures of Hammett and Bogart with dead living room ashtrays. I realize I was lucky. I could have been a contender. And I am. I have no subject matter. I know them all personally. Subject matter is the leitmotif of the deprived.

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“Also, it’s good to hire fat people because they take up more room on the screen—you don’t have to spend money on sets.” (John Waters, Artforum, January 1982.)

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Scale or skill. What determines the size of these colossal paintings in all the shows? It’s the opposite of microchips, it’s blue chips. When works are reduced to portable, charm-sized messages from the memento-makers, how can an individual self-appointedly stand for producing “social statements”?

Any gesture or reference to myth is enough movement to become more movement, to generate aura, to make air, a whole physically sensate environment. A small image is magnified through strategic posing; it channels attention to the force lines of space, faintly visible beyond the ominous trembling touch. Most of the pictures don’t operate according to logic of proportional size, internally or externally, so when looking at reproductions, beware—read the captions for scale.

Do we want to shift images out of meaning by scale variants?

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“Secrets are always smaller than their manifestations.” (Oscar Wilde, De Profundis.)

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In the contrast of scale, small imagery in large surroundings becomes all powerful when it is happening and speedily traversible when it is not. Tiny gland-sized figures, capable of being fondled, emphasize their secret porno charm as tiny emblems of hidden desires. Like makers of oriental porn, the Italian telescopes, allures, and funnels with a sense of security in codes which give comfort like the reliable conventions of the geisha. The German closes up; shoved in your face is a violent eruption reflecting our Judeo-Christian body guilt. They just can’t mix.

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Sandro Chia has spread his work too thick.

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Dial Q and A (like in Questions and Answers) for Quotation and Appropriation. Dial T for Terminal Terminology. Again the terms engender a limitation on thinking about the issues. “Quotation” is anchored as a quicky and Appropriation as mere antics. These terms are not comprehensive enough to deal with the realm involved: it makes it all seem like a klatch of bourgeois plagiarisms. We should be contending with counterfeit gestalt (Gesamtkunstpatch, in cabbage-patch terms). Asking, where has the original of the whole world disappeared to? Has Rammellzee taken it to the Van Allen Belt?

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Apocalypse of the body or flight of the body? (Francis Bacon, William Blake, El Greco.) “A new mythology is possible in the Space Age, where we will again have heroes and villains, as regards intentions towards this planet. I feel that the future of writing is in Space, not Time.” (William S. Burroughs.)

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What do this graphic matter and the art critic have in common? We both have deadlines.

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One of the most hilarious things about Francesco Clemente is that he actually painted a soul. A combination of the skinny, droopy skull in the Sistine Chapel with the smiley button face and a cloud.

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I can’t believe that magazine that entitles itself Real Life. Let dead dogs lie in peace. Why not admit we don’t have that? Let archeologists dig at the memories of eras capable or intent on measuring themselves in those terms. Reality has long been a shifty bastard, a gigolo, a flash of enchantment, a fairy, a desire, the richest internal lining of the “nothing” we have been talking about (Robert Smithson). Let’s not pretend we live in terms of it.

If you don’t have life, for godsake right now at least pretend to live. There are things in life you couldn’t even dream of. More life in living than music in John Cage’s silence. More noise in living than in Cage’s noises.

TV watching uses up fewer calories than sleep. This is a passive generation, armchair tourists in the cultural “provision” of the technocratic powers for the masses, watching television with its flattened, commercial art perspective.

Picasso went to the circus. So did Marc Chagall and Federico Fellini. Why not TV now? Yes, TV is an electronically transmitted image, but an acrobat was just an opportunity for color-coded corporal studies with the odor of popular entertainment’s charisma.

“The present age . . . prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence . . . in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.” (Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 1841. Trans. George Eliot.)

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It is not such a leap for my fingers to get a picture via the TV knobs or to squeeze the tube (of paint).

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These are the genres that are normally piped in to us through movies and TV, but now they’re blasted from static canvases. They are permanent hardware, psycho-Musak you can’t turn off.

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Graffiticus Melodramatis. Everywhere. Like Colab’s output of cold type, reproductions, Xeroxes, posters, small-scale cottage-industry (irregular, almost handmade) multiples, political graphics, woodcuts for the cheap price of salvation. Indulgences (the prints that proliferated just before the Reformation). The church sold them to her flock; for the price of a picture, your salvation.

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Joseph Nechvatal’s work seems congested with metallic, industrial haze, as if the nuclear apocalypse he dreads had already dumped its thick, claustrophobic fallout everywhere. He makes drawings out of a surfeit of culturally circulating images and echoes, the substratum that this reproducible age has left behind. The saturation of imagery provokes a perpetual deciphering and rediscovery of the vast pictographic vocabularies sedimented in his graphite burial ground. Its associative power is its formal logic. His drawings derive from other drawings derived from other drawings; such is the nature of his palimpsest.

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An Etch A Sketch toy, with its silvery screen, erases and reconstructs its images while at the same time leaving faint traces of its deposits.

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The graffitist’s oft-repeated motifs are second nature, a portable art software, a glyphic vocabulary. The artist becomes like a repeating machine, evolving a brisk clarity of line which communicates instantly. This character of habitual strength, speed, and readability is an important contribution to contemporary picture-making, graphics, and the art of drawing.

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When graffiti artists started to sign their legal names to their work, which is already a name, it was much as if Marilyn Monroe, in the middle of her career, had attempted to star as Norma Jean Baker. They were neither the same entities nor the same context. After she, along with the whole apparatus of the star machine, had created herself, product and person fused. Marilyn was larger than life-size. Graffitists bomb their names to be larger than life-size; it’s an art of the self. Their sign overtures fused and compounded with a feedback mechanism that turns back on the self. There is a curious schism between two signed identities. To sign a work is to oppose the “counterfeit.” But “authentic” graffiti is illegal.

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Graffiti was not a “minority” “liberation” movement. If the artists hadn’t won acceptance from the art world, that world would never have given it to them. It was their own gangster tactics that won the art space.

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The private sector has paid twice for this urban, public, “free” art, once when its taxes were spent to obliterate it, and recently to buy it for private collections.

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This stuff I call visual pollution is similar in its impulse to my giant smoking habit. I inhale and exhale cigarettes all the time with a sense of radical importance: it’s my buffer zone against the anonymous pollution and garbage stench of the city. At least it’s my pollution. While I inhale it at least there’s less room left in my nostrils for the intake of other pollution.

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This cabbage-patch article was built by eyeball methodology—the critic seeing through the patch, with one eye. The other eye is the adopted eye, the doll, the image, the dub, the picture.

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The trompe l’oeil eye involuntarily scans and detects its braille environment—like Watson, who seems in constant search for clues, but really only wants to find Sherlock Holmes (the other eye).

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The parallax of Image Galore and Cabbage Galore is homomorphic resonance. Image and picture delight because they resemble; they are stand-ins; they are extensions of the self. (Like a god, a friend, or the Cabbage Patch doll.) The morbid weight of the individual’s solitary cosmic claustrophobia (existentialist, abstract, turned in on itself) is thus uplifted. Pictures make people happy. Moreover, the picture, this double, this doll, will forever give you as much love as you need it to give you. Since you adopted it, it owes it to you.

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The difference between painting and sculpture: skinny (flat) people tan on two sides in the cabbage patch. Fat people have to tan on four sides.

Edit deAk is a contributing editor of Artforum.