Monday, April 2, 2018

“Stories of Almost Everyone” at Hammer Museum


The hammer opening a box. You likely have seen the video of Ferrell and his windblown partner comedically "not getting art." Sanctioned by the Hammer, Ferrell and everyone involved operating pro bono, Ferrell’s wife on the Board, an advertisement that was embraced and spread, and perhaps something to do with its appearance on CAD now.
In it the Ferrell mocks the art which he of course sees - at least a little - as mocking him. The comedy alleviates the tension of and fear of conceptual art - fear whose expression runs the spectrum from “just not getting it” or incanting “the emperor's new clothes” against it. The film does little in the way of traditional education even when glaringly obvious: Ferrell's explication of the pillow slept on by acrobats is exactly the point, to create a story like a dream inside your own pilloried head. This goes unremarked. Instead the advert supplants traditional education for an implicit training: how to feel okay in museums by arming potential visitors with a weapon against artworks: irreverence, jadedness, mockery, that interminable arms race of cool we all learned in grade school by proving who could care least. The Hammer’s spectacle almost begging people to feel okay mocking art. That we now feel the need to educate people in artistic insouciance is a symptom of how badly the artworld had arranged itself toward the opposite: decades guiding the public toward veneration and supplication toward it. Now needing to explain to people you can make fun of art, condoning it. That art and more specifically contemporary art museums have become synonymous with entertainment, younger people finding themselves gravitating to MoMA rather than the Met, the Hammer has made a decision to consciously align itself with this new audiential target, the young who are interested in art but have little or no education in it, and goes out of its way to cater to this audience by claiming a stance against the education priorly requisite. This makes sense. Even the Met is opening contemporary wings. The outreach seems sensible. Ah to be mocked by a famous comedian! what success, to be patronized by a movie star playing the everyman. “Stories of Almost Everyone”