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18 May 2017

Dr Great Art Episode 7: Art Beyond Complaint

Jan 28, 2017
A short artecdote discussing how criticism and complaint about the moribund artworld is important, but what positive things we can do to improve the situation.

Here is the script (NOT a transcript as I change elements when recording).
Dr Great Art Podcast Seven
"What Can We Do? Art Beyond Complaint"

Hi this is Mark Staff Brandl, with the seventh "Dr (Great) Art" brief podcast. I hope you enjoy it and come back for each and every one.
Today we have a short Artecdote discussing what we can we do beyond complaint to improve the situation in art?

I find Europe in general and Switzerland in particular to be a fabulous place to live. I found New York and the Caribbean and elsewhere great too. Chicago, my hometown, was a quite stimulating city. The artworld itself in Chicago ---- or the artworld itself in my chosen beautiful home in the eastern part of Switzerland --- that is, well, another story. A story which arises here often --- and perhaps thereby it is changing.

You know the story --- whether Chicago, Switzerland, Cologne, hell even London or NYC, it's the same. Everything is "good enough" --- but that's it. We artists have hardly lived in more secure times for us financially, many of us even have a good measure of success, so my complaints are NOT sour grapes. I'm doing very well. BUT I am NOT blind and will not pretend to be so, as seems to be demanded of artists nowadays. We live in a moribund, academic, mannerist, in short kiss-ass-ly boring, artworld. And this is VERY dangerous in our new-found political world at large where populist, demagogic idiots are driving us toward a new fascism.

Don't get me wrong. Silence is indeed death. Complaint is good and necessary. But ---Beyond complaint, though --- what will be the NEXT steps for progressive, concerned artists and their allies and kin? In short:

What can we do to improve the situation in art?

First of all, make extremely high quality art. Particularly with well-honed technical abilities. If you DO NOT now have these skills, this is NO surprise as they are seldom taught in art schools any more. But GET them. That ability can not be denied nor taken away from us and will outlive many an overblown curator justification.

Second, openly criticize the situation. Step on toes. Stop kissing butt. And that means IN THE ARTWORLD as well as in the POLITICAL WORLD!

Third, offer and create constructive alternatives, even perhaps to the point of creating your own artworlds, venues and so on. Even the biggest ones are really only art-villages after all, as Paul Klein has so rightly stated. Attempt to add a positive answer to every correct criticism you level.
Fourth, encourage others who do the same. Help build critics, curators, students and especially other artists who pay attention to what is around them, who have independent minds, who are more than simply careerist toadies.
Fifth, network in a POSITIVE sense, even internationally. And that's what we are doing now. As artist Alex Meszmer says so well, "Amateur artists compete, professionals collaborate." In this, I see a possible leadership by women and so-called minorities. They have been generally excluded, thereby see the truth more clearly, --- and as we saw in the Women's March on Washington could well lead the way.

Sixth, leave doors open. Tell the truth, be upset about hypocrisy and lies and toadiness, but be willing to "let it go" if they improve, if the purveyors of pedantry and their groupies gain consciousness or make overtures toward reparation.

We may even have to create an entirely new artworld, as the Impressionists did which kick-started Modernism. Whatever is necessary, but lets start now. The political world appears more and more hopeless each day. Like my friend the great political philosopher Dr Cornel West, I have no optimism, but am addicted to hope. i think artists can do it. It begins at home in ones own neighborhood.

That was "What Can We Do? Art Beyond Complaint"
Thanks for listening. That was "Dr (Great) Art" podcast number 7. If you wish to hear more cool, exciting and hopefully inspiring stuff about art history and art, come back for more. Also I, Dr Mark Staff Brandl, artist and art historian, am available for live custom Performance-Lectures. In English und auf Deutsch.
I take viewers inside visual art and art history. Entertainingly, yet educationally and aesthetically, I analyze, underline, and discuss the reasons why a work of art is remarkable, or I go through entire eras, or indeed through the entirety of art history. The lectures often take place with painted background screens and even in my painting-installations.
You can find or contact me at
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