29 August 2013

A piece of dialogue



GF:  Duchamp said, 'How do you make a piece of art that's not a piece of art?' Well Cage did it with music, maybe 4'33"...
MK:  No.
GF:   Well --
MK:  Duchamp did never not make a piece of art, and Cage did never not make a piece of art. That's a game they played, that's a game they played to pretend they were doing something that wasn't art. Of course it was art. What else was it?
GF:  Well put, let me finish. And then Joyce wrote uh--
MK:  Pshhh
GF:  Finnegan's Wake and invented the Internet, and disguised it as a book. [...]
MK:  Of course. Why else would you want art? The only social function of art is to f things up. It has no other social function. Absolutely none. That's why, if you merge it with the entertainment industry, make it about the desires of the masses, it doesn't have any social function.
Also, what that idea about art--what separates it from politics, politics has a purpose. It's about power relationships. Art doesn't have anything about power relationships. It's simply about fucking this up for the pure pleasure of fucking them up. So it's about formal -- it's about analysis, and formal, uh, uh, scrambling, and it both escapes the practicality of politics and the -- what was the other side? I forget.
Audience:  Entertainment.
MK:  Eh?
Audience:  Entertainment.
MK:  Yeah, entertainment -- which is drugging the masses. So art should be something in between that's not practical in terms of power relationships, because it's fantasy, but it allows for power. Because art allows for power shifts over a slow time because people's minds change. Entertainment never changes people's minds. It just drugs them to reality, and I completely agree with Marx in this, in this way.
So I'm against the idea of art being subsumed either into the political sphere, or into the entertainment sphere. I think it has to be a separate social entity, especially in America. I think in Europe, social and class differences are different than they are here. But in America, since it's such an anti-intellectual culture, it has to be a separate milieu, that's purposely--um. What would I say? Purposely purposeless. It has to be. Otherwise it has no social function.

- Mike Kelly, in conversation with Gerry Flalka, 2004 { via }

2 comments:

el hombre invisible said...

It's hardly a pro-intellectual culture here in the UK - is there one anywhere?

Good points here, though, about the role of Art in relation to Entertainment. Commercial pressure (to survive) is one force tugging at the would-be professional, yet at the opposite end, those conceptualists with the right contacts can milk the market for 'edgy' work favoured by investors.

I agree that Art has no place in Politics and should revel in being no place, ideally.

Greyhoos said...

> ...is there one anywhere?

To any exceptional percentage, I'm certain there isn't.

Re, art vs. entertainment & politics. Ironic coming from Kelly, as his work sometimes touched on each/both. There was certainly a lot of pop culture connex, as well as "power relationships" (even if the latter more often dealt with the class/societal and familial sort). But doing it in an overt fashion, ceding all guiding intents and principles to such considerations? Always a mistake, that.

And as far as "commercial pressures" are concerned: From what I've read, it was that very thing (in the form of upper-echelon art market dynamics) that was causing Kelly an existential crisis and a great deal of depression in the months leading up to his suicide.

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