Sunday 14 February 2010


I went to Lenox Mall. Mostly because of all the poop-talk on Burnaway & Artlanta ( art blogs covering the atlanta art scene) that I did in their comments section. In fact, like this Flux Bloom thing at Lenox Mall-I should have just remained in my leaving them alone realm. Well- I should leave Burnaway alone-not Artlanta. Artlanta represents freedom. Really, quite frankly, here lately I'm starting to feel like I don't have anything left to do but actually splinter off from everything. Freedom. To actually purify my perspective. Write from there. I suspect the directness and will to call it like I see it would sharpen dramatically. It would be an interesting phase of research for the character.
Maybe, instead of art galleries, I will start hanging out in malls. I will display care and desire for expensive decorative things, from a place that is at least more direct about doing just that.

I have no use for Lenox Mall. I don't recall going there since probably the early 90's. It's a mall. I know what is in there. Oh wait. No. In 1999, when I was concerned with fashion, I purchased those Buddy Holly Giorgio Armani frames in, I think it was a store called Specteca. My goodness

Let's try again: Today at Lenox Mall.
The Bloom Dance thing was about what I expected it would be. What kept recurring,tho, as I looked around, I couldn't help but realize that I wouldn't normally find myself here.
It has been many years since I had any regular use for malls. Was this... artistic missionary work? Was it trying to deliver a message to those it felt needed to hear? Or was it simply booked there because they knew the trick would momentarily dazzle the herd, while presenting a safe friendly empty gesture? Or... do the organizers simply not "get it"?
The message claimed behind the performance, but not necessarily overt in the thing itself- seemed to think there were people to be reached and that their message would not only reach them,but be interpreted as they intended. It wanted to claim it was being confrontational to the materiality of the environment. It was not.(one of the dancers blatantly wore nike swooshers and theres even a publicity shot over on one of the other blogs prominently displaying the same shoe swoosh,huge and glowing-coincidence? we'll never know) In reality, it was very playful and seemed appropriate for the holiday weekend entertainment in the mall. (I am all ready seeing other write-ups and the self-fulfilling writing and creating of the myth of this silly ineffectual gesture--and id be supportive were the need for the reality of it not so desperate-)

This mall-is this a broad audience?A new platform? I'd say the platform,if one was attempted to be created-was overcome by the pre-existing expectations of the mall environment. There were a variety of types of people there, of course, but I challenge that a common denominator in the desire to be there at all blurs that variety and bonds them. If I wanted to be snarky and blithe-I'd say the adhesive relied mostly on work invested by television commercials and magazine covers .
Did this dance performance challenge? Did it bring something new and unexpected - or "foster an awareness of the richness and diversity of the city's creative culture"? I don't really feel like it did. It felt like it seemed as though it belonged there on some fundamental level. It had the attitude of importance in much the same way a girl in a clothing store would.

It is really unfortunate. I understand the intent and am supportive. I simply feel that, in order to actually culturally stir things up-art is going to have to reach into that deeper more confrontational reservoir. This age moves fast. It's collective memory has seen a great deal and requires more. Reaching into the reservoir that is more direct and unedited, realizing how pure the message needs to be. To actually make change, that is. To not be just some happy gesture. It not only has to say direct things it has to be direct about it....that seems so obvious.
The confrontation is a natural by-product of remaining focused on what needs to be done. Just as MLK would have realized, I suspect. Civil Disobedience comes to mind. The cultural state of this city is sedated and requires dissolving of existing cinder block thick bonding agents. Phony dividers fabricated from sick shallow materialistic senses of the self keep us apart. They connect us and keep us at arms length. Events like this actually reinforce this glue. Keeping us apart and capable of being herded..into malls.
Today in realtime shared space and the internet- utilize an awareness of the information traveling- on the very same wires,in the very same air used to share/create with, how it is shared with life itself-the art experience-the act of observing is so immediate,the effect is blended with the cause in an instant-exposed and raw. Unedited and powerful. Not simply a Happy Valentines Day surprise treat.

I did produce and fund my own mall art show, not too many posts back it was recorded. Displayed in the much more low-key or low-rent mall-North Dekalb Mall,the show lasted about 24 hours. I'm sure you all recall it..the one where Eggtooth channeled the spirit of the recently deceased King of Pop, Michael Jackson? And in doing so, found Michael's main wish was to use crayons,like a child, and draw doggies-like a child? Well, that's what Michael did. And I showed them (and gave them away by leaving them displayed) to visitors of North Dekalb Mall. Those were the days. Empty weird crude and naive gifts. Perhaps it fostered an awareness of the richness and diversity of the city's creative culture.
Today, at Lenox Mall, I watched mall patrons watch these dancers- a dance troupe whose name I forget- establish a central square point in the mall, string musician in chair with security guard,convenient to the Giant Starbucks Island-it was happenin'. The dancers worked their way outwards from here, about a dozen of them. Mostly female wearing what appeared to be deliberately sort of stylish-dingy black and white, they were reminiscent of mimes in moments. An accordianist followed,as did Louis Corrigan(founder of Flux and funding this event) with a child-like smile, as he giddily kept pace with his camera.
Mall patrons had the reaction one might expect. About half seemed oblivious, discussing happiness or concern in the purchase they found as they zipped through,maybe passing a quick curious glance and moving on. Others enjoyed mocking what they had just seen by displaying their version of the dance movements observed. I found myself watching reactions as much as the dancers themselves. Many seemed bemused and disengaged. Or on the verge of laughing. Some simply did laugh as they moved on. And yes some enjoyed it and took pictures with their phones. It made me wonder what it would be like were this not billed a big one-time special deal, but a usual part of our culture-a regular part of life. No need for selling it as this highly emotionally physically charged whatever, no need for blaring within the mall the expected gushing musical scores.
I saw one couple, a freaky rat's nest haired weirdo and her boyfriend in distressed expensive hipness with tatt sleeves. They were inspired to dance on their own as they exited the scene of the event. This amused other mall patrons just as much if not more than the Bloomers. Seeing that it had inspired others to dance was actually kind of nice. I sensed part of the desire was in the mockery,like talking back to a movie in a crowded theater, testing one's base comedic/charismatic sass-ability with strangers. It was a playing with the circumstance, a chance to express one's self in the most immediate convenient way.
But the thing itself. It is not what I think of when I think of the Flux Mission statement-which i will now post right here:

Flux Projects supports artists in creating innovative
temporary public art throughout Atlanta. The organization
produces new platforms for artistic experimentation that
engage a broad audience in their daily lives, beyond the
walls of traditional arts venues. We challenge artists to
make exceptional, surprising work that inspires Atlanta
and fosters an awareness of the richness and diversity
of the city's creative culture.

It hurts to read that because on a generalized level it is inspiring. I can tell they realize what they are dealing with in this particular city. The diagnosis is on-its just the treatment. it gave them what they wanted. or rather,simply didn't strive to mark deep enough. I cant help but feel the words "innocuous" and "congruent" somehow belong in the mission statement.
Going beyond the walls of traditional art venues-the appropriation of this idea by this organization: In much the same way that detournement is a part of the language of modern advertising, in as much as this idea of "lowbrow art" is no longer coming from a sub-culture or counter-culture. It's concern are still ultimately with playing the game right.

Did it foster an awareness of the richness and diversity of our city's creative culture? People seemed pretty accepting of its occurrence.I listened and even conversed with a few people about it. I saw and heard reactions. Some did seem curious about why-they saw others watching and wondered what they watched-but to go so far as to make a connection with anything beyond assuming a mall sponsored holiday event and into something, in theory bigger,like a city's creative No way.
It is like in the movie poltergeist where we realize the headstones have been moved- but not the bodies. We look at headstones and deny that we know the bodies are not there. To do so is crude and snarky, I suppose. A vulgar inappropriate thing.

Why do we pretend the surface is all that is needed? Yes...digging up a body is (figuratively and literally)probably scary,dirty, ugly- work. Realizing how far we have to go back and within to confront fundamental truths about ourselves-and work forward from there. It doesn't require committees and permission, resulting in the compromise of six different feet dug, one foot spread across the surface in 6 places, going only so shallow and gestural. It digs straight down in one focused pure spot. Directly to the goal. By itself.
Which is what I intend to do. Dig my own grave. By myself. Screw all of this. It's useless.

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