Art, For F**k's Sake! Knee Jerking: YAM Collective, Joe Scanlan, Donelle Woolford; Whitney Biennial '14 Swan Song

oddly enuf, back when i was making situations with vibeke, we would write grants we would never get. the weird thing was, every time we got a rejection from a grant application, some curator or artist would contact us and offer us some kind of euro-subsidy we had never applied for or heard about. it was sweet. it's as if the multiverse was dragging surplus ducats out of some parallel benevolent universe among the quantum cosmos to drop on our asses. that's how we got to mexico, norway, austria...

i still think my relative success as an artist was due to the fact that i never really cared about art the way i do about writing. which is not to say i didn't care about art. it's just that i was so overwrought with the notion of writing as this big precious realm i didn't deserve to be part of that this notion got in the way of me realizing any success in letters. art, on the other hand, was this enjoyable exercise that informed (and was informed by) my obsession with letters in a way that didn't leave me breathless, regardless of the passion i felt and the joy it gave to me and to the audience we shared. the concept of the artwork as incomplete until enjoyed by the viewer was perhaps tangible enough that the completion of my part was possible (including publication—or presentation to the public). on several occasions, we were finished installing our project far enough ahead of the opening that we were able to assist other artists who were plagued by the missed deadline... (although we did miss a few of those—mexico comes to mind...)

i am not in favor of artists boycotting anything. any artist who disagrees is clearly politically incorrect. jesus! i can hardly believe assholes are still making a mockery of revolutionary politics by insisting on the illogical stance of political correctness. to start with, art (like political correctness) is still such an elitist realm—despite the many possibilities for bridging this obstacle—that getting on some other poor artist's case is downright ridiculous. no, "poor artist" here does not refer to finances, but i do think that artists experience a deep loneliness akin to that felt by writers (who may also be construed as artists), regardless of financial reward. unless you're somehow part of the hollywood dream factory (and even these guys probably feel a degree of loneliness derived from the fear of being misunderstood that equals the melancholy that plagues losers like me), making art is hard. 

i know that images of people are often fucked up, but i addressed with my obscure "a politically correct tale" (published in ann marlowe's two-issue magazine fiasco back in the 90s) the question of who has the right to author what. i wrote this story in which every character is a 30-year old black male named norman, whether a child, a woman, gay, straight, cop, artist, mother, junkie, whore, thug, doctor (all characters), and a war is going on with the normans vs. the normans which started when one norman offended another norman by not being properly norman, forcing all the other normans to take sides. the president, the mayor, the journalists, the soldiers, the dead and the wounded: all norman. the idea for the story came to me when a young white woman challenged my ability to write a script for a film short i had already written, an "end of a love affair" involving a white male and a black woman. "how can you write that if you're neither one?" she demanded. and although i answered her with a question—did she think a mystery writer need commit murder and then become a cop in order to write a noir fiction?—she was adamant i was in POLITICALLY INCORRECT waters. i still say, fuck her and the crazy horse she rode in on. and then i wrote the crazy story. 

if you tell a story, you MUST create characters that are NOT yourself. anyone who tries to dictate what characters an artist can create is stupid or crazy or disingenuous or, most likely, all three. these witless whitney biennial artists should be making videos about evil crazy crackers and have fun with it. do you feel like an undeservedly unrecognized creative sociopath artiste and misanthrope? the zombie apocalypse—or any other apocalypse—is your route. 

i loved peter dinklage's tirade at the end of game of thrones season 4, episode 6. his rant about wishing the whole kingdom dead and gone because they picked on him all his life for being a dwarf is so fucking universal, it's terrifying. i watched it thinking, "right on, brother half-man! preach!" turns out the writers are not dwarves. what a let-down. i feel raped, violated, tricked into believing that the words he spoke were based on true truth as experienced—if not by dinklage, then by some bona fide dwarf who has experienced genuine bullying at the hands of imaginary characters from a bizarre sword and sorcery kingdom faraway that never existed. goddammit! in fact, none of them are from the realm they've created, because it doesn't exist. waaahhhhhh!!! i want my money and my time back! rape! rape! 

crazy bitches. fucked up faggots. greedy eunuch. sociopath witches. psychotic princes. snow zombies. crafty ho's. ho's who get they asses beat. mad mad mad mad boy kings and mad mad mad mad old coot kings. hungry ass dragons. dirty mercenaries. merciless mutineers. most horror of horrors of it all: this dude writing this shit ain't none of them! (and yet, i hate to admit it, but there is a lot of real shit going down from the pen of that big fat fucking old 20th/21st century white man, george r r martin. don't tell nobody i said so.) i'll bet there really are people who are offended by martin's depiction of his stereotype swords and sorcerers and want hbo to drop the show or issue an apology or do a reparations episode or an entire series.

get a fucking grip. what motherfuckers need to do is make they own scripts. do some guerrilla theater. agit-prop. crowd-source funding. make your own world real, starting from scratch. when i look around and see my shit ain't on tv or at the movies, the furthest thing from my mind is that i should be asking steven spielberg and george lucas to make the movie i think they should make instead of the one they want to make. why so-called revolutionaries imagine it makes sense to be asking the enemy to do the bidding of revolutionaries—hire nice cops or make petroleum products that don't pollute or retool their shit to use hemp or go geothermal or what-the-fuck-ever they think is ecologically and sound in revolutionary terms—that just don't make no sense. motherfuckers need to start thinking about what the fuck it is they want did and then did it on 'em. you got to start small. but why not? unless you want your own whitey museum or police force or corporation—unless you just want to do the same old shit with some lgbt colored peoples in charge, you need to stop acting like cops. i don't like cops. and i don't care what color they are or who they fuck or what the fuck they think i need them to protect my ass from. they still cops. step. da fuck. off.


  1. yes. heard. i've always questioned the jealous assimilationists. the question for Yam is: do you want to be in the Whitney or not? if you want to be in the Whitney and are uncomfortable about being in the Whitney then you got to ask yourself why you want to be in the Whitney. sort of like queers who want to be in the cathoric church. like, they hate you yet you want to be one of them. but...if they don't want to be in the Whitney and hate the Whitney, then attack the Whitney. pour blood on the gift shop or smear shit all over the elevator and write a manifesto against corporate art...but to use another artist as your foil is kind of low...


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