MSB brainstorming

10 November 2013

A Sharkforum Glossary of Terms

 Originally written July 2006 for the website.

In an effort to be as lucid as possible and yet still be able to rant at a moment's notice in our own brand of language, the Sharkforum Contributing Editors would like to present the beginning of a list of terms and expressions peculiar to us, yet freely available for wider use. This list will be regularly updated. This is a work in progress. Feel free to use the terms and to suggest additional ones.

CC= "Curatorially Correct." Formed in obvious mimicry of the famed reactionary term, "PC," ("Politically Correct," or as Liberals have oppositionally reframed it, "Patriotically Correct"). This is an adjectival formation describing art overly concerned with obeying currently modish preferences of local curators, to the exclusion of other minor matters such as quality, truth, criticality or integrity.

KC= "Kiss-assly Correct," or for more timid speakers and publications, "Kowtowingly Correct." An even stronger form of CC; art made by those having the tendency to obey academic pundits' imperatives in the hope of being allowed to join the club and have superficial success.

TC= "Technologically Correct." Art using the mandatory, most currently fashionable technology and/or techniques; e.g. in the mid 1990s: a video on a monitor on the floor; in the late 1990s, rooms with video projections on two walls and/or a neo-Dada, gesture-installation involving tons of collected refuse or identical, purchased objects. This may also involve so-called traditional forms, when they obey hip imperatives such as the current "too much turpentine" school of painting. In the later case, the term would be better expanded as "technically correct."

Krill= Those art-puddle denizens who swarm about in the shallow end of the pool, thinking their mere massing of nearly identical minds makes them a presence to be accounted for. Best seen as fodder.

Apex Predator= From Wikipedia: "Apex predators ... are predators that are not preyed upon in the wild. These species are often at the end of long food chains, where they have a crucial role in maintaining and determining the health of ecosystems. Even those not dangerous to humans (for example, owls) are formidable predators in their respective niches. ... Apex predators often have a special place in human culture and they have come to represent aspects of nature that humans find important and often appear in heraldry."

This phrase has been commandeered by the chief Shark, Wesley Kimler, to designate the position he is calling the actual creators of art (frequently termed "artists") to occupy, rather than routinely conceding this status to various other "professional dinner guests," such as critics, gallerists, cardinals, popes, curators etc. The Shark sees these latter individuals as most productive when active as "secondary" supporters concentrating on their honorable, contributive duties rather than attempting to be the tastemakers or stars, thereby usurping the role of creators (note: curator derives from Latin, curare, to take care of)

Mr. Curator / Ms. Curator= A somewhat belittling term, originating with the Shark (see below), for the curator of contemporary art at the Art Institute of Chicago with whom he is in sharp, philosophical and aesthetic disagreement. Others of the Sharkpack are not necessarily in agreement with his identification of this man as the Enemy, yet, nonetheless, agree with a generalized personification of members of the Consensus Clique (see below) and therefore have expanded the term, and gender, to be able to use it in a wider fashion. This is not unlike the criticism of Clement Greenberg in Late Modernism in the US, who was one of the greatest American art critics, yet who had such a malevolent, dictatorial hold on the art scene at one point that he was often referred to as "the art pope" or "Culturberg," the "dictator-critic" and worse. These appellations were then often used in a wider sense for any and all critics attempting to decree which art was correct and prescribe what artists should do.

PoMo= The chief portmanteau word now bandied about in cultural circles, short for Postmodernism or Post-Modernism. Postmodernism describes a movement of intellectual theory which needs little explanation to the artsy readers of Sharkforum. Once quite a revitalizing force in the philosophical arena, it has solidified into a rather staid, pedantic hegemony. It began, in English, simply as Post-Modern (with hyphen) describing rather accurately, if hesitantly, the position of the arts after about 1979; that is, no-longer Modern, thus After-Modern, thus Post-Modern. The term was quickly elided into the hyphen-less postmodern, in chi-chi imitation of French and German. In English, the progression of a noun from two paired words into a hyphenated word into a fully adjoined word is cultural, not a personal choice, and generally takes generations, as in to night into to-night into tonight. This simple orthographic fact was in fact a power-play, as part of a successful endeavor by a small sub-set of Post-Modernists to colonize the word, allowing it only to express one chosen range of meanings, in short Deconstructivist, relativist, French literary-theory-based artwork — essentially a kind of semantic gamesmanship, more sophistry than substance. This made it more of a style term than an intellectual description, probably hastening the current attempt to abandon the word, which in its hyphenated form is nevertheless historically accurate (everything after Modernism is Post-Modernism, by definition, just as we are all "Post-WWII").

LaMo= LAte MOdernism of a LAMe form. Silly attempts to return to some imagined good-old-days of Modernism, such as Monochrome painting, slipshod lackadaisical "anti"-abstraction, new International style buildings etc. You can't go back. Culture must move on, though perhaps learning from the past and using it to criticize the present.

PoPoMo= Either the derriere, popo, of the Bigfoot Monster which appeared in the 1970s in Illinois and Missouri, called "ILMO" and "MOMO," or the condition of culture now, hovering somewhere between Extremely Late Modernism, Post-Modernism and Post-Post-Modernism.

The (PoMo) Academy= The Neo-Con power-based web of connected artworld denizens now dominant in the artworld. More similar to the 17th century French Academy und Charles LeBrun than to Modernism, out of which movement they stem, this group dominates universities, curatorial positions, magazines, journals, museums and much else. It enforces the production of large shock-oriented installations (épater le bourgeois), destined to be called "grande machines," which are manufactured of mock intellectual endeavor through collaged, patchworks of memorized clichés, contrivances and strategies, all derived from a prescribed list of possibilities. Blog article on Sharkforum.

(PoMo-) or New Mannerism= Postmodernism seen as an ever-duller period of transition similar to historic Mannerism. The postmodern artworld is dominated by distended copyists of Duchamp, resembling Mannerists such as Vasari who endlessly ”sampled” and combined aspects of Michelangelo’s work. Mannerist art’s traits tended to be stretched proportions, capriciously patterned rhythm, broken symmetry, willful dissonance, unreal and unresolved space, overly fashionable (although not intellectual) theorizing, coldly calculated style, exaggeration of borrowed forms — in short, confused over-refinement. Thus, New Mannerism is a blanket term for several of the Neo-Styles of Postmodernism. Exaggerated spectacle, capricious ”shoddy-chic” structure, unresolved technological borrowings, overly fashionable poststructuralist theorization, and so on. The artists of the PoMo Academy are, thus, mostly PoMo Mannerists. Blog article on Sharkforum.

Beige Mush= The Shark's derogatory term for the glut of quasi-art by minor artifact producers flooding the scene. While well-intentioned, these people resemble hobby handicrafts producers more than artists, no matter what their education, due to their lack of ardor, absorption and quality. Therefore, he finds that much like an amateurish mixing of too many colors, the results en masse resemble beige mush. As The Shark adds, beige mush is "the porridge of an egalitarian stew, where one man's meat is another's poison, where everything is subjective and nothing is greater or lesser than anything else...."

Shark= Painter Wesley Kimler has been known to give very candid, even blunt, interviews in which he advocates painting, assails the contemporary academic artworld pecking order, while campaigning for the autonomy and self-reliance of creators. He is also notorious in Chicago for rallying for a new art scene. Nicknamed "the Shark" due to his ferocity in debate, he organized, with fellow artist David Roth, this website, e-zine and artist group titled Sharkforum, which you are now reading. Link

Shark Ed= A character in several senses of the word who resides on the Sharkforum site. Sometimes called "Ed." (with scare quotes, with or without the period), he is deeply inspired by an overdose of reading EC comics which were created under the editorship of Bill Gaines. He is the editor-in-chief of our no-Indians-all-chiefs team of editors. Usually this is a pseudonym for Site-Master David Roth, but not always.

Ex-Pat Shark= Another silly nickname we've dreamed up for an editor here — the one living mostly abroad, the one with a too long, mongrel name, Mark Staff Brandl. Also called Continental Shark, Theory Shark, Marky Sharky and various profane expletives. We'll be working on the other contributors soon — how about Film Shark for Ray? An expatriate is one who has taken up residence in a foreign country, originally referring to the large numbers of British citizens, now including many other nationalities as well, who never consider themselves emigrants, yet who seldom return "home" to live. Link

P.S. Join the Sharkpack and we'll make up a ludicrous, aquatic nickname for you too.

Pollyanna-on-Prozac= Based on the misuse of the heroine's name from Pollyanna in a 1913 novel by Eleanor H. Porter, the derogatory term pollyanna has come to describe someone who is forced-cheerfully optimistic. Prozac is an antidepressant drug, fluoxetine hydrochloride, which has in recent years become the most popular "mood adjustor" of the upper middle-class since valium. It is rumored to make one artificially happy about everything, a kind of self-induced hebephrenia. Therefore, Pollyanna-on-Prozac describes a naive, anti-critical artworld person who always expects other people to pretend that "everything is alright," that any given situation is just jim-dandy as it is.

Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Dada= Still big in the Charts. First there was Dada; then Fluxus, an exciting movement first describing itself as Neo-Dada; then Pop, also at first called Neo-Dada by detractors; then Fluxus influenced Mail Artists and the like; then Appropriation Art; finally evolving into current Neo-Conceptual "gesture" installations. Every one of these movements was rather refreshing and anti-authoritarian until the last two, which in fact were pro-authoritarian, and succeeded in becoming the ruling authority. If you count the list, they are, though, historically seen, actually Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Dada more than Neo-Conceptual.

Neo-Con= Either Neo-Conservative, the reactionary, imperialistic cult behind George Bush --- or The Neo-Conceptualists in art (see Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Neo-Dada). The latter is a derivative movement of artists using strategies taken from the Conceptual artists and/or quasi-Duchampian form to achieve a (hypocritically denied) opposite goal to that of Marcel's, domination of power and position within a commercialized artworld.
At first rather fecund in the hands of Feminists, and a freeing force in an artworld investment bubble called Neo-Expressionism, it is now the international, dictatorial, academic style.

Consensus Clique= A few people gathered together, who actively exclude as many others as possible (particularly artists) and tacitly agree to agree on everything. They check in with each other regularly and only promote the lowest common denominator of what they concur on. This is not a conspiracy, they say, just a very convenient conformity of (small) minds to have identical tastes in order to achieve hegemony. Additionally, let them now be called the Consensoriat (when they have positions of power), and let the sub-period of time at the close of Postmodernism be designated the Dictatorship of the Consensoriat. And let us now work to bring its demise to a hasty conclusion.

You have a bad attitude. = Our favorite compliment.

Self-Promotion= When an artist, not having known well enough to be born into the correct class or not having developed the correct connections through KC activity, is so presumptuous as to personally suggest her or his art deserves attention instead of awaiting that hallowed discovery and beknighting by a member of the Consensus Clique.

(Neo-) Sophistry= The newest form of an age-old erroneous and self-serving belief that the validity of an argument is irrelevant (even non-existent), that it is only the ruling of the audience which matters. Sophists claim there is no reason to search for or even desire such things as quality, truth, analysis, criticality, social justice, etc.; only triumph over others matters. Many of the "powerful" in the artworld of today, even artists themselves, make no claim to any actual desire for anything beyond a rather bovine, suburban, view of career success and are happy to teach this and promote it and themselves in universities, museums, Kunsthallen, exhibitions, biennials and the like. Blog article on Sharkforum.

Installative= Adjective; meaning Installation-like, involving or subsuming ideas from installation art, particularly into the realm of painting or photography. Created by applying the suffix "-ive," (Performing or tending toward a specified action) to the root of "installation." Similar in construction to demonstrative and analogous in meaning to sculptural or painterly.

Non-Calvinist art= Having no fear of your body, even making things with your own hands. Celebrating the mind and the body as intertwined. Additionally, neither homophobic nor heterophobic. No fear of sensuality or intellectuality.

Hypocritics, Curatoadies and Artjellyfish= Three varieties of lowlife misusing divinely inspired professional callings (see "Krill").

Pintophobia= The pathological fear of painting, primarily due to an inferior interpretive eye, an absence of historical knowledge, a lack of backbone and an obsession with fashion.

Remoras= Also known as "shark suckers." Those krill who are wannabe Sharks, yet are only truly fit to parasitically clean off a Galeocerdo.

Yellow-Pages Art= Coined by and borrowed from London-based Irish painter Mark Francis, this term describes art objects, or more often installations, made without the investment of any personal physical making or even much concentration. Just get on the phone and order a whole bunch of prefabricated things and have them delivered to the gallery. It's a "momentously critical" creative shrug, discharging art from anything as tedious as ardor.

Meatloaf = A term offered by Mark Philips. Meatloaf is art that follows a recipe with slight variations --- touch of this, dash of that, --- but in the end it is still just the same old mediocre meatloaf. Nothing special, nothing risked, just something cranked out because it's consumable.
Also called "chum" in Sharkspeak: that is, bait usually consisting of oily fish ground up and scattered on the water, especially bait thinking itself creative because it exactly complies with the consensus beliefs of it's cronies.

This glossary has been compiled by Mark Staff Brandl with input from Wesley Kimler and David Roth. Drawing with apologies to Bullwinkle and Jay Ward.

Categories: Art, Humor

One I think needs to be added is what I have termed "Meatloaf" - art that follows a recipe with slight variations - touch of this - dash of that, but in the end its still just the same old mediocre meatloaf. Nothing special, nothing risked just cranked out because it's consumable.

The Shark would never include a schlub like the dilletante Rondeau in a discussion including the likes of Clement Greeberg -no matter how egregiously formulaic and reductive the latters esthetic became. The reason being, Greenberg actually HAD an esthetic -whereas the social butterfly cum fundraise extraordinaire Rondeau flits around with fawning suburbanite art mavens in tow, himself a fawning sycophant/lapdog to people like Ms Judith Kirshner -whom 'James' perceives to have a vision- Rumor has it, these two uuhhmmmm, creatures can be found at a local pool, swimming laps together. Kirshner barely treading water, Mr Curator true to form, negotiating his way via dog paddle This, constitutes a body of water, populated with what, gives even The Shark himself the willies.

As for beige mush, this is the porridge of an egalitarian stew, where one man's meat is another's poison, where everything is subjective and nothing is greater or lesser than anything else....ex. the crummy John Currin Hallmark card pastiche Sno-bo is for one person, as important of a painting, as Las Meninas is to who is to say what is good and what is not? Or so 'think' the purveyors and/or levelers in the galley cooking up democratic vats of rancid beige mush.

Wunderschoen! Ganz wissenschaftlich.

Donald --- Thanks for reading, commenting, agreeing and noting the humor. It is always great to hear from a critic of your caliber and independence, even when so short a line (I got more in a separate email).

For the record, I disagree with the Shark about Rondeau, I think David does too, but I find the generalized criticism of the position of curators vis-a-vis artists necessary to, at least, make fun of, and to suggest as possibly destructive. I think from his Bad at Sports interview, Mr Rondeau might agree with me there.

I like Wesley's additions to the "beige mush" definition, I'll add it in.To the "other" Mark commenting above, "Meatloaf" isn't bad either.

Mark, thanks for the meatloaf suggestion -here at sharkforum we refer to it as chum.....

Chum --- very funny Wesley. Bait fraternizing around with itself.

Well Mr Know-it-all, I beg to differ with you on the Mr. Curator front and will hasten to tell you that any number of prominent artworld types here are in full accord with my assessment of Mr. Rondeau. In fact, I believe you will see apex-like personages working behind the scenes - and in public - to secure his removal in the not too distant future.

Love this! Very inventive. Particularly "PoPoMo" and "pintophobia"

Thanks Simone --- that's great praise coming from an author of your talent. I'm particularly proud of "pintophobia." I first made it up in German ("Pintophobie") for a Cover painting I did, then I translated it into English. Please steal it and use it a lot.

Oh, I already use it:) I actually read "pintophobia" in an earlier post of yours many months ago and toss it around whenever I can. Perhaps, I should employ it as a Word-of-the-Day?? On another note, I was thrilled you like the Tyehimba Jess poem. His entire book Leadbelly is fabulous!

I'd love to have it as a Word of the Day --- And I love that feature here too. As Raymond Chandler said, the only book that is ALWAYS interesting is the dictionary.

I can imagine you bandying that word about --- walking down the street in the morning, coming upon a curator or critic or video artist --- "Well, good morning Mr X! How are you? How's that therapy going for your pintophobia? Have a nice day!"

I thoroughly enjoy your entries. I'm a poetry fan in general, but that one by Jess really hit me ("John Lomax’s Recording Machine, 1933,"  HERE). I really think it is one of the most stirring poems I have ever read --- hits my interests I suppose, too. I've got to get that book.

In answer to one somewhat befuddled response to this post, I would like to say that, yes, I mean this seriously, but it is ALSO intended as humorous. For those perhaps less visually astute, please note that my self-caricature above as (Shark) expert is riffing on Bullwinkle, and I am facing the wrong direction, and the glossary book is upside-down and backwards. And it is titled Mr Know-it-All. Sheesh.

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