David Thompson


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November 01, 2014


Karen M

The performance was a systematic act of destruction

Hey... just like voting Republican! Wow. Mind blown.

Karen M

And she needs an intern to help her buy a bag of fruit?


I see you fathomed the exquisitely subtle (and yet daring) metaphor. I bow before your mentalism.


>And she needs an intern to help her buy a bag of fruit?

Don't you see ? She's worthy.

Probably an unpaid one too. For the art.


David, you'll never find the bottom of the performance art barrel. It goes down forever.


David, you’ll never find the bottom of the performance art barrel. It goes down forever.

No, but the scraping can be perversely entertaining. I think what makes this stuff so laughably wretched is the assumption that we, the punters, will excuse, even applaud, the feeble wankery on offer. And the standard is so low - so bewilderingly low - it’s inescapably insulting, both to those on whom it’s inflicted and to anyone taxed to pay for it. Apparently, this is what they think is good enough for us.

Jamie MacMaster

Sooooooo cerebral. You know, like the meditations of a cow.

sackcloth and ashes

'And she needs an intern to help her buy a bag of fruit?'

Granted, but at least she can make a smoothie by herself.


just when you thought it was safe to go out again. man, it seems stupid is expanding exponentially.

Robert of Ottawa

But wot about the red peppers?


And the standard is so low - so bewilderingly low - it’s inescapably insulting,

It's also startlingly, nay, spectacularly, derivative and unoriginal.

The only thing that can be said to be of any interest in performance art is just how narrow the range of motifs they use is.

One performance art is virtually indistinguishable from another in every aspect.


However, I would love to be able to interview this woman just so I could deliberately mispronounce her name as ARSE.

Lancastrian Oik

Essential reading.

From the introduction: "Throughout the early 1990s my collaborators and I experienced 'philosophical vertigo'. First, we were faced with the collapse of political socialism in the now ex-Soviet Union and the consequent triumph of the international Right. The much-touted 'backlash era' began in 1993....

By the mid-1990s, it became clear to my colleagues and me that our new artistic project had to start defining new artistic intersections between performance, theory, 'community', new technologies, and activist politics. To do so, we need to rethink our entire practice and reconfigure our poetic cartography, to invent a more inclusive map, so to speak. Eventually performance pedagogy would give us the answers we looking for. "

Trans: "We gave up on pretentious arsing about to concentrate on getting academic posts where we could teach people how to arse about, because it pays better".


I see all us rubes miss the obvious metaphor.

-which is of a narcissist with nothing of meaning to say whatsoever absolutely insisting of saying it anyway.


R. Sherman


Gallagher did it first and without a subsidy.

Dr Cromarty

So, she made an unusual smoothie.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

And how they hate Gallagher for having the wrong political views.

Lancastrian Oik

Be thankful for small mercies in that it isn't Rocio Boliver. I shudder to think what might happen if you gave her a load of fruit and a hammer.

Farnsworth M Muldoon

I think what makes this stuff so laughably wretched is the assumption that we, the punters, will excuse, even applaud, the feeble wankery on offer. And the standard is so low - so bewilderingly low...

Alas, these twitterpates unfortunately take themselves seriously, and the process has been going on for far too long, and not just among "perfomance" artists.

A long time ago I had a friend who was attending an art school known for photography, and this individual was quite talented in the manner of Edward Weston and that ilk (which was decidedly 180 degrees out from the schlock in fashion at the time), however, shortly before a graded exhibition he had all his gear stolen. Not being long on cash while awaiting the insurance settlement he bought a Kodak Instamatic reasoning that if he used it with the same rigor he used a view camera he could turn out decent photos.

Such was not the case, the pictures, however well composed and otherwise worthy they were, were too grainy and unsharp for his liking. As he was worried about his grade for having nothing to show, I suggested that he make contact prints - a whole 13X17mm - from the Instamatic photos, put them in 8X10 inch mats, and, as was the fashion even then, write a treatise explaining the mess. Having nothing to lose, he did, explaining that the reason for the contact prints and large mats was some rubbish to the effect that rather than being able to stand back and stare detachedly, the contact prints forced the viewer so close as to have to concentrate so intently that they become one with the "image" (photos weren't called photos back then). They ate it up with the proverbial spoon, and unfortunately spawned imitators, though my friend did get his A.

The morals of the story are that P.T. Barnum was right, pretentious art twits have always been among us, and serious art began to die when Constantin Brancusi's "Bird In Space" was brought into the US as a kitchen utensil.


After reading the 'no doubt colossal drama' link, I can't work out who's more pretentious - Ms.Arsem or the person who wrote that.


I dread Nov. 5 then.


Ms Arsem says, “It is a conversation, a process of discovery… I remind myself that I am not obligated to entertain the viewers.”

Translation: I don't need to know what I'm doing and if nobody is interested in my half-baked bollocks it's their fault.


Yes, God forbid that art should be in any way entertaining or pleasing to the senses.


"After taking a long sip of water, I carefully set the glass down, and slowly, excruciatingly slowly, inched the glass of water across to the far side of the table, where it hovered for several moments half off the edge, before finally crashing to the floor."
Does she also write for http://www.dullestblog.com/ ??

watcher in the dark

Do any of these performance artists ever look at another piece of performance art and think quielty, "what a load of old doggy foo-doo" or are they collectively thrilled and uplifted by it all?

More to the point, do each one of them instinctively understand all performance art as if it was crystal clear?


If they have to acknowledge each other’s hustling in public, I’d imagine there’s a lot of rhetorical air-kissing. “Darling, it’s fabulous.” “Oh, but yours is fabulous too.”

Otherwise the punters might start to suspect.


It's a damned good thing she does not feel obligated to entertain the viewers because it is quite apparent that she doesn't. She shows remarkable insight there,for a pretentious, self-righteous, ridiculous leftie nitwit.

My right butt cheek has more artistic talent then she does, and no you cannot see it, it does not really have enough talent for public display.

Elrond Hubbard

I can't help wondering who cleaned up the mess or is that what interns are for?


"and Edge has been acclaimed for “vibrating with possibility” and “making use of space, time and physicality to explore and present endless concepts".

I suppose if you have to exalt it with meaningless praise, its probably crap?


David, you'll never find the bottom of the performance art barrel. It goes down forever.

It's actually a torus full of tortured souls.


Farnsworth M Muldoon,

A long time ago I had a friend who was attending an art school known for photography...

I can confirm from direct experience that not much has changed, at least at New Zealand's oldest school of art. There's a bit of statism going on now as well. Buzzwords like diversity and sustainability have been forced into the curriculum at a national level. Consequently students all across the country who aren't at all interested in those ideas are forced to write a load of phoney theory in order to reach the appropriate 'standards' for serious artists.


This is the edited version? Sorta like, they took out all the boring parts?


Be prepared to tremble in awe at some serious award winning art about sustainability,



. . . the two glasses of water eventually fall off the table.

Oh, so altogether, as an all encompassing summary, as the one focused explanation of what she's done, it's what cats do.

Ms Arsem spends three hours lying face down in a gallery window while a handful of dutiful friends look on, chatting distractedly, and passers-by pass by,

Yeah, I've wound up helping host parties like that. At the actually entertaining parties, we do manage to chase the hipsters out so that we don't have to babysit.

From the introduction: "Throughout the early 1990s my collaborators and I experienced 'philosophical vertigo'.

Ayup. So did everyone else. After experiencing the Nineteen Empties, we all did get left going Oh, Good Ghod, What The Total Documented Unsupportable _)#(*_+)#(&$) Was That?!?!?!?!

I can't help wondering who cleaned up the mess or is that what interns are for?

Yeah, that'd be what the intern is for.


I'm not sure you can top the inanity of that. So, it got people talking and got lots of publicity. Because it was 'literally' rubbish! I'd dearly love to know if any one of the people who fête this stuff enjoys actually looking at it. I mean really actually likes it. Do they?


I mean really actually likes it. Do they?

Liking the look of a piece of art or appreciating the skill and technique isn't really the point, and that attitude of appreciation is sneered at by some in the arts community and within the schools (I suspect the judge is one of these people). What was important is the rubbish got some people talking about the ideas that those in charge want people to talk and think about, e.g. sustainability, recycling, and other such high-art concepts.


Then I methodically destroyed the tableful of fresh ripe fruit.

My toddler grandkids make a terrific go of that at meal times.

Where can I sign them up for an art grant?


jimmy- That,of course, is what is so unutterably dispiriting. That culturally it has become looked down on to believe Art offers it's audience: beauty, extraordinary technique, meaning and it's timeless ability to illuminate and enrich our lives. What,for instance, do these people feel if they look at a Rembrandt self-portrait or a Vermeer. Or any of the real artists, great and small ,throughout the Ages who have given us works which illuminate our worlds. These people have come to believe that Art is nothing more than a vehicle for facile ,vacuous, politicizing. They may as well print flyers with witless slogans on. And they are teaching this to the next generations. It's appalling .


A Rembrandt or Vermeer may give the opportunity to opine on some post-modern critique or feminist analysis of gender roles and criticism of the way the female form is portrayed. Simply mentioning the beauty of the paintings suggests that there is a hierarchy of paintings that are beautiful and paintings that are not beautiful, which is, like, totally 'problematic' and probably patriarchal and oppressive.


Yes. Relativism is All. Everything is there not to be appreciated, but to effectively allow us to be enlightened as to what is historically, politically, or culturally 'wrong' with it. This is the template, the prevailing lens through which everything must now be viewed. ( And anyway most can be dismissed as the products of dead white men ). Apart from the rigidly facile intellectual thinking behind this - it is soulless.

Lancastrian Oik

Being a cynical sort, I'd venture to say that po-mo criticism is easy. You don't need to be equipped with hard-earned skills stemming from a deep study of (say) mid-17thC Dutch and Flemish painting, with a knowledge of technique, the manufacture of pigments, ability to interpret X-rays, genuine cultural history and archaeology etc..... that's too much like hard work. It's much easier just to regurgitate some Derrida. Because, unfortunately, that's where the money is. Sokal might just have well as not bothered.


I would expect your cynicism is justified. This sort of criticism doesn't seem to be based on any deep knowledge or understanding of their subjects. More the well-known faux intellectual - sounding, obfuscating jargon that so many people are in thrall to. Its main objective seems to be to ask - What themes of oppression are discernible in this work? In what ways was the author of this work an oppressor? And in how many ways were the Culture and Society they lived in oppressive? Answers: the usual list -And a lot.


I hope that woman didn't fall asleep lying there. That would be cheating on her art. Or would that be the point? Bugger, I am confused...


The most valuable resource in the world is time, and these nitwits are wasting everybody's.

Sustainability, my foot!


I hope that woman didn't fall asleep lying there. That would be cheating on her art. Or would that be the point? Bugger, I am confused...

Remember, she's making a point that as an artist it's not her job to entertain (or enlighten or uplift) the audience. I I gather it makes no difference if she is awake or not, seeing as it is all about her anyway.


Regarding her work, Ms Arsem says,

I consider art making as both a place and a process. It affords the opportunity to engage in embodied thinking, to challenge my assumptions, to examine ideas through different lenses, to experiment with processes whose outcomes I can’t always predict, and to take risks in a context that is framed and contained within real life.

“Examining ideas” and “challenging one’s own assumptions” is, for her, exemplified by equating an insufficiently leftist election outcome with “a systematic act of destruction.” Specifically, the destruction of fruit. And sharing that glib and flimsy notion with an audience that is overwhelmingly, almost exclusively, leftist in its pretensions, just like her, is the yardstick of “taking risks.”

Ms Arsem tells us she graduated from Boston University in 1975 as a Batchelor of Fine Arts and has spent much of the intervening years being subsidised across several continents, with numerous grants and academic residencies, including here in the UK. She’s currently the Head and Graduate Advisor of the Performance Art Department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, where she teaches performance art.

Being so good at it herself.

And Ms Artem’s vanities are in no way unusual among her peers. I’ve mentioned before the local taxpayer-funded city-wide art festival, which is typically heavy on leftwing politics and textual exposition, and light on aesthetic substance. You’re unlikely to find anything visually compelling or showing any great skill, but you will find lots to reinforce a certain political viewpoint. One year we were treated to a “critique” of “international market forces,” a “critique” of privatisation and “neoliberal policies,” a piece that “highlights economic and social inequalities,” and a film about an attempt to unionise office cleaners. None of which could be described as particularly artistic, or indeed festive.

And this annual subsidised hustle is curated by lefties, features work by artists who are largely leftwing, or pretend to be, and attracts a small audience of people whose politics generally correspond with those of the artists and curators. Despite the guff about art “being challenging,” it’s hard to see how any of the people involved are being challenged in this respect. What we tend to end up with, year after year, is an in-group talking to itself - a tiny caste of middle-class lefties leeching taxpayers’ money while telling each other how egalitarian they are.

[ Edited. ]


I remind myself that I am not obligated to entertain the viewers.

She succeeded.

The original Mr. X

Shared, because it's really too good not to:


It turns out, you see, that a woman isn't allowed to complain about being catcalled if her catcallers are black. She was asking for it, really, by walking into a black neighbourhood. (Wonder where we've heard *that* one before...)

Mr Ecks

There used to be some camp comedian who had "Oooh I could crush a grape" as his catchphrase. Art imitating ...well not Life but something....


I am always a little disappointed when they don't just take a dump on stage and call it a day already. It's the performance art version of Jackson Pollock or Baquiat... If i can reporduce it with a few hours of effort, it ain't art.


a little disappointed when they don’t just take a dump on stage and call it a day already.

It’s been done.


Re: Catcalling racist misogynist homophobic transphobic video

I'm reminded again of the ouroboros of left-wing thought. It's an apt symbolism.




There used to be some camp comedian who had "Oooh I could crush a grape" as his catchphrase.

Googlemancy reports some fellow named Stu Francis.


Re: Catcalling video /article

The only solution, she says, is to remake the video with a "universalizing cast" : the camera centering on,"say, a black trans woman."

Could that be guaranteed to produce unproblematic results?
And, if not, would they have to remake the remake?


I guess problematic results would be grist for the mill. Just think of all the potential intersections of oppression that could be milked for maximum righteous indignation. I mean, I think this was the point of the original video - to spur outrage.


I think, at this point, they need to engineer only the 'correct' sort of outrage. The kind that will prove whatever their favoured 'narrative' is.


Has anyone noticed how many instances there are in Ms Arsin's write-up of "I", "my", "me" etc, while there are none at all to any audience or appreciators of performance art who might, or more likely might not, have been present. One might easily conclude that Ms Arser is excessively devoted to the solitary vice, and even needs an intern to help her with that. Similarly the overwhelming theme of her little work and diatribe is all about destruction, leaving one to wonder what, if any, creative talents she may have. I did not wonder for long.

In any case, David's publishing of this revelatory material is timely, as just tomorrow, the US Federal mid-term elections will be held, and a strong swing to the Republicans is expected. It can be followed live on the web at any number of sites. Just what Ms Arse's artistic response to a Republican landslide will be is anyone's guess. I only hope David will have the common decency to spare us it.

J.S. Bridges

There was a "thing" going on, a couple years or so ago, called "planking" - dunno, maybe it's still happening some places, 'round the planet - primarily consisted of taking up a position, in some public location, on one's belly, arms down at the sides, body more-or-less held in a "stiffened" position, as horizontal as achievable, mostly whilst looking straight ahead, and having someone take a pic of the "act"...

It strikes me that, realistically, anyone doing that sort of essentially silly-assed, extensively pointless "thing" for an interval of only five seconds or more, has just accomplished profoundly more "art" than that pretentious-without-reason ditz named Arsem has managed, in toto, in approximately the last four decades...or appears likely to ever achieve, on balance, if she continues to exist for another half-century or more.


Re: Ms. Arsem's potential response to the US midterms

It could be very alarming.

Although, she may find consolation (if required ) from the NYT, which has declared that the midterms should be cancelled - due to redundancy / irrelevancy. Interesting timing for this observation , on their part.


Re the catcalling video, there’s more here.


It's like someone looked at WWF wresting and wondered how far they could go in the other direction...

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