Saturday, September 11, 2021

Megan Plunkett at Emalin


Dear grad students: a history of the concept of "paintings' eyes that follow you" - the "Mona Lisa effect" - literalized in the trope of "portrait painting peephole" - villain's eyes peering out at meddling kids. Essays on Sherrie Levine explain the feeling of being observed. Michael Fried's viewer/actor stage. The anxiety of observing, the anxiety of art, the anxiety of being unable to produce "meaning." Feeling others eyes at "not getting it," a social panopticon appears, "surely this is a joke." The Emperor's new clothes, one feeling exposed. 

Thus the artwork mutates to clue boards, becomes mystery awaiting its detective.

"There is a parallel between conceptual art and murder scenes. ... turning a messy world into object, language, into document. Turn a world's blood and guts into evidence ... Both the detective and the conceptual artist turn the world into a story, relying on aesthetic or truth, it's attempting one that you can get an audience to swallow, convince."

"[Art] is a cultural structure such that [its] prize is "what it is about." ...  there is something to be unlocked, understood. There is something to be won. This is the belief. Even the hardest attempts to slap the viewer with just fucking looking at the thing are always already subverted into questions of what this visceral slap means. Painting begins to be prized not for painting but for this mystery. And a mystery, should it not spoil itself, cannot tell you its answer. A mystery instead must load its objects with intent, clues, an ambrosia of noir, an affect of meaning."

"But you are not a detective, this is not a Clue board."

See too: Michael E. Smith at 500 Capp Street Foundation, “Stories of Almost Everyone” at Hammer Museum,