Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dave’s State Funded Artist art symposium.

Why does the state fund the arts? Why does the artist accept the funding? What is the core value of this contract? I have forgotten, or never knew in the first place, but seeing as the democratic ideal of peer jury allocations is being phased out for more reliable corporate models, I think it’s a good time to ask. It’s my impression that art advocates are immersed in language celebrating the bi-products of art as justification for the maintenance of an unexamined system. Things like economic benefit, community animation, social work, the integration of cultural constituents and the parroting of nationalist propaganda obscure our evident ‘sector’ wide shame of the urge to be artists. Maybe this is a particularly English-Speaking-Canadian phenomenon. Maybe it’s fear of our society, our families, ourselves as artists- if we ever get around to making such a claim. To outing ourselves as such. The work we make is intimately tied up with the structures we utilise. As an English-Speaking-Canadian state funded artist I have helped create and continue to support these models, and I am wondering about the effects of shame, fear and gratitude on that relationship and how it affects art. My art.

One bi-product of the recent provincial funding cuts is that I am actually heartened by the discussions I am having about art, with artists, and with my society (that’s all the fucking people, baby!), but I find our institutions, funders, and advocates harder to engage. So, I am going to pursue my own symposium with whomever.

For this symposium to work to my benefit, all you have to do is buy me a drink to tell me how wrong I am.

Here’s a few random topics to start (if you are buying, you can propose your own)

Topic #1
Art is deviant in practice and transient in materialisation.

Topic #2
Art is self-indulgent. Self-indulgence is hard.

Topic #3
Transmission is via the body. From one body to another.

Topic #4
Institutional, administrative, funding, and presenting structures; the primary function of art structures is to normalise art for the comfortable consumption of the bourgeoisie.

Topic #5
Art is something safe for our artistic kids to do with their university degrees, provided by the state and their community with just enough structure and hope to maintain their ignorance in a perpetual state of infantalised careerism.

We are the bourgeoisie. That is the promise of democracy.

Topic #7
David McIntosh is a cynical asshole who should just fuck off and get out of the system.

Bring it on!

Symposium and regret

My experience of Plato’s Symposium felt like a long night at a socially conservative gay male aesthete bankers’ dinner party. Love, power and passion within a guarded sense of privilege.

Structurally, I like the four or five layers of transference. The accumulated hearsay in relating the ideas others. The crude leaps afforded in such a form.

Here’s my favourite idea, via Diotima, according to Socrates, as related by Aristodemus to Appolodorous, who told an unnamed friend, according to Plato:

“...some one is said to be the same person from childhood till old age. Although he is called the same person, he never has the same constituents, but is always being renewed in some aspects and experiencing loss in others, for instance, his hair, skin, bone, blood and his whole body. This applies not only to the body but also to the mind: attributes, character-traits, beliefs, desires, pleasures, pains, fears - none of these ever remain the same in each of us, but some are emerging while others are being lost. Still more remarkable is the fact that our knowledge changes too, some items emerging, while others are lost, so we are not the same person as regards our knowledge; indeed, each individual item of knowledge goes through the same process. What is called studying exists because knowledge goes from us. Forgetting is the departure of knowledge, while study puts back new information in our memory to replace what is lost, and so maintain knowledge so that it seems to be the same.”

I like this because it affords me an opportunity to make my own crude leap of logic: If we are continually renewing and losing our constituent parts, then regretting is a passive aggressive act against our responsibility for the present. When you regret something you did or did not do in the past, you are blaming someone else, your past constituent self, for a state of disaffection you may be experiencing now.

Pour me another one.