tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > MEDIA: The Bio-Tech Rehearsal For Leaving The Body

MEDIA by Les Levine
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really liked it
bookshelves: art

This is one of those bks I read before I was completely jaded to art theorizing. Levine's incisive & seems to be largely forgotten (if he was ever much known in the 1st place) - maybe b/c he's Canadian, maybe he didn't spend his life sucking up to NYC critics, maybe he just had something of substance to say. In the "ARTISTIC" section he wrote:

"What the audience expects from the artist is that you be some heroic figure, which they can look up to. They want you to say, "I'm the greatest fucking artist you have ever seen, I'm the greatest." But, as soon as you've said it, the very instant you say it, they say to you, "Look at that artist saying such awful, pretentious, ugly things about himself." But they still have to have the satisfaction of you presenting yourself as some hero."

I think that's funny & as 'true' as other things sd about artists & the public. As 'true', eg, as saying: What the artist expects from the audience is that they be told "You're the greatest fucking artist we have ever seen, You're the greatest." In other words, many artists probably just want their personal sense of what's 'good' to be validated by popular opinion so they can glory in their own apparently justified megalomania.

Does the audience still want a heroic figure? I wonder. Who's this 'audience' anyway? A TV 'audience' (or, as I prefer for obvious etymological reasons, "vaudience") probably wants to be told that some artist that they've already heard of b/c of media marketing blitz is a 'genius' who lead a fabulously successful financial life after great suffering & then had a tragic death. I mean that's got the usual elements: Horatio Alger + Peyton Place, right? To hell w/ whether the 'art' means anything to them REALLY or not, right? They're told it's 'good' & so much money is spent on telling them its 'good' that it must be true. Jackson Pollack, eg. Levine is good for provoking this type of discussion. Not that this bk brought up specifically what I just wrote.

There's a section called "What can the government of Canada do for you?" that has pictures of a white guy (probably Levine) in blackface on the top of each page. He put forth a proposal for a piece in the Government of Canada bldg but was rejected b/c, while he's a Canadian citizen, he was living in NYC instead of in Canada at the time. This section is documents relevant to that. What's the significance of the blackface? I reckon Levine felt like he was giving a song & dance routine at the time.
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