comma, 2010

value and alchemy in contemporary art

The topics set forth during these kinds of meditative acts allow for a gentle interplay between a free flow of thought and teacherly instruction, the affectionate chastising of others’ work and the occasional bite of lovers: “You can stop talking now.” Interludes of silence are comfortable moments of concentration, the hands in motion while we think round thoughts. It was a round-a-bout way to discuss contemporary art and value creation, another chuckle over the money that we’re missing and the reverberations of Ms. Lu’s comment that Also Space² lay some far outside from “what’s going on”. But it is an understandable inconspicuousness to position oneself also, in addition, alternative, marginal. This externality to the core—-what had been a very critical moment in the historicising of Chinese contemporary art this past week—-left us feeling insecure, slight. But why? It was his premise from the beginning that these should not be hierarchical estimations, and rather, we had been discussing art and democracy, art and anarchy. Perhaps these things are not so far off from panel discussions of the sort, but we seek form from our politics, like the organisation of ever smaller grains of mud and sand. So small that they reflect light on their surfaces. Shiny mud balls. Value and importance are self-created entities, perhaps overdetermined, like the roundness of a mud ball made smooth and glossy by caring hands.

At the end of the workshop she came to treasure the imperfectness of her sphere and its mottled terrain, but its shine gave her that comparative sense of pride with which all our notions of value and capitalist competition are based. No matter. In the end she gave it up, placing it carefully it in the wire basket with all the less fortunate attempts.

photos by 何颖雅 Elaine W. Ho and Fotini Lazaridou-Hatzigoga

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