THE FEMINIST T-SHIRT
The Post-Feminist Slut/Voyeur Artist Statement
Step 1: talk about how your subjectivity is formed in the wake of post-feminism
Step 2: use your fairly attractive body in all your work, photographed in skimpy underwear & rollerskates—it’s okay to look slutty becuz you’re a feminist interrogating self-objectification
Step 3: DON’T WEAR MAKE-UP. It will cause you to not be taken seriously “conceptually”. DO WEAR SKIMPY UNDERWEAR. It will make your work sell like hotcakes.
Step 4: talk about how you are problematizing the traditional relationship between spectator and on-screen fetish object
Step 5: end with the phrase “an unsettling dance of seduction, power, trust, tenderness, loss, and betrayal”
The idea of creativity, which is always parasitical, gives to a look its huge, plundering reach. There are creative writers, creative designers, creative engineers, and, in that sickly phrase, creative entrepreneurs—but this is of an altogether different order from being an artist, which can require certain creative uses or deployments of a sensibility, but which typically demands large rations of vision and talent and intelligence that are, from the vantage point of an audience of consumers, ultimately unresolvable.”
“Most of the best ideas about how to make space for artists, to tell stories through artworks, usually come from outside the manuals. The best ideas are not recited by a professor, but made up in your own head.
You learn what everyone sooner or later does, though it comes off as utterly cliché advice if ever repeated. There is no right or wrong path to become anything really, and besides, you get to decide what success means. Make your own job, career, life. Become whoever you want to be, however you want to be it.”
“Already a long time ago modern artists practiced a revolt against the identities which were imposed on them by others—by society, the state, schools, parents. They affirmed the right of sovereign self-identification. They defied expectations related to the social role of art, artistic professionalism, and aesthetic quality. But they also undermined the national and cultural identities that were ascribed to them. Modern art understood itself as a search for the “true self.” Here the question is not whether the true self is real or merely a metaphysical fiction. The question of identity is not a question of truth but a question of power: Who has the power over my own identity—I myself or society? And, more generally: Who exercises control and sovereignty over the social taxonomy, the social mechanisms of identification—state institutions or I myself? The struggle against my own public persona and nominal identity in the name of my sovereign persona or sovereign identity also has a public, political dimension because it is directed against the dominating mechanisms of identification—the dominating social taxonomy, with all its divisions and hierarchies. Later, these artists mostly gave up the search for the hidden, true self. Rather, they began to use their nominal identities as ready-mades—and to organize a complicated play with them. But this strategy still presupposes a disidentification from nominal, socially codified identities—with the goal of artistically reappropriating, transforming, and manipulating them. The politics of modern and contemporary art is the politics of nonidentity. Art says to its spectator: I am not what you think I am (in stark contrast to: I am what I am). The desire for nonidentity is, actually, a genuinely human desire—animals accept their identity but human animals do not. It is in this sense that we can speak about the paradigmatic, representative function of art and artist.
The traditional museum system is ambivalent in relation to the desire for nonidentity. On the one hand, the museum offers to the artist a chance to transcend his or her own time, with all its taxonomies and nominal identities. The museum promises to carry the artist’s work into the future. However, the museum betrays this promise at the same moment it fulfills it. The artist’s work is carried into the future—but the nominal identity of the artist becomes reimposed on his or her work. In the museum catalogue we still read the artist’s name, date and place of birth, nationality, and so forth. (That is why modern art wanted to destroy the museum.)”
“The professional always makes the right moves, knows the right thing to say, the right name to check. Controlled and measured, the professional never fucks the wrong person or drinks too much at the party. They never weep at the opening, never lay in bed for days too depressed, sick, broken to move. They say about the professional, “so easy to work with” or “so exacting but brilliant.” The professional takes advantage from every encounter, employs every new acquaintance as a contact, always hits the deadline. When asked about their work, they know what to say, a few lines of explanation sprinkled with enough filigreed intrigue to allude to abysses of research, the mysteries of making. They answer emails in minutes. Their PowerPoints are super crisp. Look at their website, so clean, so modern, so very pro.
You don’t feel like any of these things.
You are hungry, tired, overworked. You drank too much at the party and then slept with the wrong person, and then the really wrong person. You missed the deadline, it just thrushed past with a whoosh. Hustlers around you disappear into wealth and fame. Your dealer tells you to make more with red, those red ones are really selling. Maybe, she says, you make only the red ones for a while? Your student skips class to go to an art fair. The most pressing collectors are the ones holding your student loans. They keep calling, you wish you could trade them a drawing. It can take days to answer the simplest email. Your website, if it exists, is in shambles.
You wander. You doubt. You change styles, media, cities. You experiment, you fail. Again. And again.”