I used to be out every single night of the week. And weekends, too. Needless specify, I dont remember it all. That was before. Now, to have me leave my home sweet home, in the midst of NY winter, you’d better have something good to offer. I got an email friday, a casual invitation to a video art show. Forgot about it, then thought on monday afternoon: I should definitely leave the house, and get some (freezing as hell) air. I mistakenly had in mind the performance was at the Blank Space thing. Until my girlfriend, Clarisse, exclaimed that the nail salon we were going to was so fucking cool. Wait, what? Had I known before getting ready it was a nail salon hosting the night, and curating it, I’d probably would have blamed it on the cold and not go. I did make a comment just that day on how bad it was that so many stores and cafes and magazines were now turning into art galleries « once in a while. » I’m okay when proven wrong though. Vanity Projects nailed it. Sorry, the word game really was unintentional. Why, and how was it so different from every other space thinking they should add the art trend component to their business?
In theory, I am thrilled that more and more people feel like they « get » art, and so go see art shows - in galeries, museums, fairs, and elsewhere. But it saddens me to notice that the main drive isn’t art itself. The viewer being viewed viewing. That’s the focus. Which, could be a form of art in itself. Which would demand panache, questioning, and doing. Creating. Thinking. Talking. And listening.
I revendique elitism in art. And people then assume I’m just another art snob. And I let them. ‘cause I can be. But let me tell you this. My standards for elitism are not the ones you’d imagine. The elite I wish art spoke to and was destined to, is one bonding around the fairly disregarded, mistrusted, and despised notion of kindness. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE power. Power seeking is such a major thrill in (my) life. But what type of power? Again, not the one you’d figure yourself. One achieved by stepping on people’s head, or found in the incessant mirror-like back and forth gaze, repeating one same empty praise to one another to feel better about one's achievements: not it. A power that considers kindness as a flaw: still not my type. However. Being brave enough to show honesty of emotions, honesty of showing yourself like you are, honesty of being yourself, honesty vs pretending to be, that’s more like it. My elitism is one of the heart. One of finding, (re)uniting, and celebrating people’s pure love for (the) art(s). And I don’t care if it sounds absolutely corny or naive. Because it’s everything but. Why? Yes! Another question. I love to explain why. What’s a pure love for the arts? One where the hashtag isn’t, like I’ve been seeing it lately, #hypenomatterwhat. Or #hypeatwhateverthecost. Seriously. If you think about it… It’s kinda ironic that after everything that our contemporary history (‘cause who cares about modern, or even classic) has to say, as one kind, the human kind, we now, again, and perhaps more than ever, need to remind ourselves that’s it’s fucking more than okay to be who we are. My own hashtag of choice would be a diptych. #beyou #betrue. The power of being human - as in, showing qualities of « humanity » for the self and others, is my kind of power. And so, it seems like my elitism is a close neighbor of the battle between being true vs being seen.
Back to last night. Vanity Projects was having a nail art night, presenting a performance and video pieces by Martin Guttierez and his alter ego, Martine. It was so good because it was so sincere. Also because Guttierez's work in its whole has much to do with the question of gender - and is approaching the matter with a poetic and almost melancholic delicacy. What’s so delicate about a man dressing (almost) as a woman and dancing to his/her own music, to simplify greatly? His imagery. Of course, you can make parallels and find references of others in his work - we all come from somewhere. But much to my delight, that’s not the first thing you see. The first thing I saw, and was allowed to react to, was Martine. Pure and simple. No game of power transpired from the performance. The performance was all about… the performance. That’s why.