Details on my slideshow thing at Art Institute of Chicago:
February 3, 6:00pm - 7:30pm SAIC Auditorium, 280 S. Columbus Drive
Another thing Trixie's attention deficit disorder makes her susceptible to is Candy's very large breasts (not implants--this is alt porn). Her eyes will periodically light up and she will surge toward them with some expression of avid disbelief and then bury herself in them for distracted seconds like a fruit bat hanging by its teeth from the drum-tight red of a suspended treat--while Candy, still both-handedly controlling her controller, giggles benevolently over her head and counsels her to remain calm. Nearly every girl in the industry did this once they were on any kind of decent terms with Candy, but with Trixie, whose consciousness is consciously, cyclically, and forgetfully auditing all five senses for incoming data, the effect is exaggerated.
This sort of behavior is, according to what I'd seen earlier that day, what the junior senator from Pennsylvania would call "antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family."
On occasions such as this one, it is not uncommon for Trixie to then look down, cup her own fist-sized teardrop tits, and pensively assess them. Her nipples are interesting. When erect, it appears as if one nipple is concentrically set atop another, fatter, pinker nipple. Though they had been produced by an unhealthy, unstable, traditional family, it is difficult to know whether the senator would say that the nipples themselves are so fascinating that they are by their very essence antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family. However, there is no question that in their current profession as functional constituents of an adult performer--and since the senator, whose last name is a homonym for an unfortunate consequence of anal sex, is philosophically opposed to all entertainments featuring characters even approvingly discussing nonprocreative sex and believes that the First Amendment should be interpreted as having a three-tiered structure--he would have them considered, at the very least, a controlled substance. (He would lose.)
In that case, one would normally be inclined to say that the shirt that Trixie is now borrowing from me and putting on, having worn the same shirt for two days, is an ally of healthy, stable, traditional families, covering, as it did, the nipples. However, Deuteronomy 22:5 clearly states that "A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God." You see, Trixie is wearing the kind of shirt that does not merely advertise Batman but that has his emblem across the chest as if she is Batman. In coincidental symmetry, I happen to be wearing a shirt, which experts would recognize through very subtle indications (gray field, yellow bat), that implies I am Batgirl. Candy wears, in a kind of sidecar coincedence parallel to the motorcycle it portrays, her own Batgirl shirt (which does actually depict the character in question, chasing nothing down the sheer and twistless ridgeline parkway of her boobs). All of this suggest an undertone of transvestitism and batgirl-on-girl action about this now-entirely-clothed scene, which may be antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family--even without considering that both of the girls' shirts are very tight at any rate and that Batman admirably did what he had set out to do with his life despite his parents being shot dead in Crime Alley by Joe Chill on a foggy night in Gotham City.
Q: Is there an avant garde anymore?
A: If you mean artists making good new work that should influence how the world will look, then yes. If you mean, Do they all know each other
and are they all employed as fine artists? No. I'd say about 10% of the avant garde are employed in the fine arts--most have fled to film, animation,
illustration, design, architecture and elsewhere after a sort of anticreativity pogrom that's been going on in the fine arts since the modern gallery
system emerged and realized it was only equipped to sell one or two styles at any given time.
Q: In terms of your career, what was a major step for you in making it into the higher echelon galleries, and selling your work?
A: It was a three-step process:
Step one: filling out the federal loan forms so I could go to Yale.
Step two: not dying while there. (It was easy, New Haven is not a tough town.)
Step three: one of the teachers who wasn't trying to kick me out liked me.
Q: Did it change anything about your practice?
A: No. Most people have a pretty good practice in school and get a lot done, then they get out of school and it does change their practice because they have to work for a living. The luxury of having a gallery is you get to act like you're in school again.
I had a job 20 hrs a week even when I was in school in school, so things didn't change for me much either way.
Q: Do rich folks deserve all the good paintings?
A: Short answer-No.
2002: The 1st painting I ever had in a gallery. They said: How much? I said 6000$. They said: That's crazy. I said: That's minimum wage.
And that was federal minimum wage--not even the minimum wage for the state I was in. And the gallery takes half of that--and then taxes.
In Europe, they're willing to pay artists to make stuff--like in Sweden they will pay you a stipend if you just say you're in a band. But over here? The budget for military music is bigger than the budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. That means America would rather pay a marine to play John Phillip
Sousa on the trombone than see something new.
And, honestly, if the new thing is gonna be more Felix Gonzalez Torres, it's hard to blame them.
I mean, asking people who just got fired from a bank to pay taxes so the NEA can fund more art that looks a lot like a bank does seem kinda cruel.
The solution is clear: stop making bad art and/or smash the state. I'll help out with either.
Q: You're work takes an insane amount of patience. Are you ocd, and if so how else does it effect your life?
A: Im not OCD. In my experience OCD people don't get much done because they're too busy cleaning or interviewing assistants to make their shit for them.
The D in OCD stands for disorder because it dissociates means from ends. Order is only ever a means to an end, and the end is getting shit done. The OCD
person is failing to get shit done.
Professional art interpreters like to spread the idea that artists are crazy so that no-one will listen carefully to what artists say and the interpreters can maintain
job security. In reality, if you like my work, then you know why I make it: I want to see it, just like you. The only difference is you're luckier--someone's already making the thing you want to see for you so you don't have to make it yourself.
Q: Is it significant that the planet earth is in a 'dead' part (non-star
producing) of a mostly dead (non-new-star producing) galaxy? And what
will happen to all of that art when the oceans boil and the mountains
melt? And should I be worrying about this?
A: Short answers: No. It will cease to be. No.
Long answer: Worrying about what the world--art- or otherwise- will be like after you're
dead rather than what you are going to look at while you're alive is probably responsible
for more bad art than THC, ancient Egypt and the Eastern Orthodox Church put together.
Q: Because of new discoveries in science, the end of space is expanding. Do you think it causes the growth of yourself or the growth of your outer frame? And the reason?
A: I really hope there's a language barrier issue here.
Q: While you are driving a car, you see a kitten ahead in your lane. She was hit by another car and her body is flat, but the head part is totally normal and crying at you. Which do you think is the right thing to do? Run over her head to finish her pain, or try to avoid her with believing a miracle?
This was what happened to me really, and I still cannot forget that.
A: Save the kitten. You never know.
It's like the search for extraterrestrial life: the chances of success are remote, but if you end up with a mostly flat cat but with a normal kitten head it'd be so worth it.
Q: Given that no one can say for sure what happens after we die, but
given that the better someone's imagination is the more complex a
picture they may be able to build of such a situation, what happens
after we die? (IE, give us some story about the underworld.)
A: Artists know what happens after you die: your prices go up and people you never met in glasses
pretend to know about you so they can get interviewed on public television.
Q: What's the best way to keep your brain-hand connection from rotting
when you just don't feel like drawing anything?
A; I generally go for my scissors. Not much comes of it, usually, but it's good to keep busy.
Cameras are pretty easy to come by these days, too.
Q: If stars talked to each other using some sort of interstellar email,
what would their words look like?
A: I am on fire and life is spawning around me and it is trying to see me but I burn its
Q: When, in the far future, the human world is just One or Two
Governments vs. One or Two Mafia Families, plus all those poor plebs,
who will take over whom, and how?
A: Call me nuts but I'd put my money on whichever party manages to use
a threat of violence to maintain a monopoly over the means of
So, pretty much the way it is now.
Q: Do you ever get Paranoia (the Pynchonian variety)? if so, when?
A: Pynchonian paranoia is that variety where you perceive all things as covertly and sinisterly
connected--and no, I don't get it much. I'm too busy worrying about all the things that're
overtly and sinisterly connected. Our last two wars were started in oil country by a
president who was an oil man and a vice president who ran a military logistics
company. Who needs conspiracy theories?
Q: Would you ever consider painting on bioplastic specifically so that
you could have an laugh about the conservation issues of such
Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) is biodegradable without residue.
personally i would love to see the time-lapse video of 100 years or
however long it took for something like that to just evaporate in the
middle of a museum.
A: It's enough work tryna cook the world's finest cheeseburger without worrying
about how it's arranged on the plate.
Q: I always feel i want to paint things i know people won't give a fuck about. like the illyrians, for instance should i ignore those urges? are they dead ends? or will the fact that a handfull of history geeks go 'cool!' mean it's a good idea?
A: It's alarming how often I get questions like this--young artists asking if they should make some art they want to make despite or because of the approval of various allegedly interested or disinterested parties.
The only good thing about this job is you get to do whatever you want. If you can worry about
what somebody else wants for 14 hours a day and still be happy, get another job--you might get health care.
Q: At what point does abstraction and/or self-reflection defeat the purpose of artistic expression?
A: Can you clarify? I don't understand.
Q: The idea of expression, that of conveying information or feeling from one person to another, relies on some shared understanding comparable to language; if two people speak two completely different languages they simply cannot express themselves to each other. Similarly, if an artist's work is so abstracted or so completely focused on the internal, they may as well be speaking a language that only they understand. I was wondering what your thoughts were on that threshold of expressive futility, if you think there's a sort of artistic event horizon past which the artist's meaning cannot escape their own internal or abstracted focus and reach the minds of others.
A: That is a question worth answering at length and I will answer it, but I will provisionally say now that it rests entirely on the bizarre premise that art is primarily an act of communication.
Ok. What I'm doing now is communicating. You are understanding what I'm saying. If I go 'I like shrimp' right now, you will understand how I stand with
regard to shrimp.
That's because English is actually a language. We use it to communicate--in dull and styleless declaratives--because it is really good at communicating. Art
may make things easier to remember, but it is terrible at communicating them to begin with.
You know why mathematicians all over the world have always understood the Pythagorean theorem? It's not a painting, that's why.
Look at the most well-known well-publicized works of art in the world: the very few people who even care what they mean are still fighting with
each other about what they mean to this day. In fact, just about the only way to get a degree in writing about art is to disagree with what everyone up
until you said about it. If you want to communicate, using art is the best way to be misunderstood.
Only a very sick and anhedonic society could decide art is about communication--do you bake cake to communicate? No, you bake it because you want to eat cake.
Now this idea has been confused because in advertising and journalism they use images to draw attention to ideas, which they then use words to
clarify. (Often in the form of captions.) This should confuse you no more than when a guy trying to sell you a car gives you a cookie shaped like
a car so you'll pay attention to him while he talks.
Another confusion is caused by the fact that, in order to explain how art or a cookie is made or why it tastes good or holds together, you may have
to get into some psychology or chemistry. But all the science in the world won't make it taste better. It can only explain what's already happening.
Many images speak a thousand words--Statue of Liberty--that's only because we have already heard the words and have been told to associate them
with that symbol when they see it.
Now if you really want to, you can use art to explain stuff--like they do with plumbing diagrams. You can also use a piece of dark chocolate to kill a dog
but, again, it doesn't really affect whether the chocolate's tasty or not.
So, yeah, fuck communication, make the cookie you wanna eat.
Q: Do you believe your art is more, or less sexual than Klimt's?
A: Well Klimt's pictures have all these parallel hairy paintstrokes which I think are about as sexual
as a beige wool bathrobe. But that's just me.
Q:In terms of emotion, what inspires your work? ( I know thats cheesy)
A: I think the more of your emotions you can transmute into work, the more work you get done. I get a lot done because I can run on almost
anything. I know artists who can only run on comfort or isolation. They don't get much done. Especially in this economy.
I need something relatively flat and something I can hold that makes marks on it. That's about it.
Q:At any given point, when is art not alive?
A:Please stop being a hippie. It won't help anyone.
Q:Are you interested in Japanese culture?
A: Yes. I think they have a much more honest and stylish minimalism than in the west--and the new maximalism they're working on is sublime.
Q: While Assuming extraterrestrial beings do exist, and suddenly showed up. Do you think they would see the works of Earths Artist both present and past as art? or would there art be so different or advanced that the art here would not "click" in there minds.
A: Extraterrestrials would be unable to tell art from the rest of our stuff. Or if they could tell the difference they wouldn't care. The same way we'll put any old
thing in a museum(wheel barrow, shopping list) as long as it's from ancient Assyria--which is how it should be. If they're really smart they'll leave the explanatory text off the wall too.
Q: Also side question with the advances in our own technology where do you see art going in the future?
A: In the future, art will fill the available places people go to see art. It's one reason paintings still work--people click on a webpage and, hey look, a whole
picture! Easy. Like it or don't. A video means you have to click a button and hope its not a waste of time. Big commitment. It has to start being good
Some people think art will get high tech very quick. This will only happen if showing it gets cheaper--until that happens we'll keep having
the situation we have now where most of the highest tech art is just sort of redundant versions of things advertising is already doing made by rich kids
and ivory tower grant junkies.
Q: Do you ever get so overwhelmed by an art idea and its potential that you can't bring yourself to make/paint it?
A: No. I just do and do it wrong. Then I do it again.
Q: Do you ever look at your inspiration at a given time as a phase or, to get more swanky, 'period' while you're in the midst of doing it? I feel like that question is not clear so I'm gonna exemplify. Sometimes when I'm depressed I write really angry, painful music/poetry, and while I'm doing it I consciously say to myself 'You're pouring your pent up emotions on the page, that's where this is coming from." Do you pay attention to things like that? Actually do you even define your pieces on the context of the inspiration that lead to them? And do you think where an idea 'comes from' even matters?
A: When I'm working I sometimes get an idea that I'm doing this or that, but the thing tends to come out completely different and about something else. Everything I do ends up having this
same itchy, hyperactive, bouncing-off-the-walls kind of thing which tends to override whatever I thought I was up to at the time.
For better or worse, if you're doing it all the way you tend to metabolize everything into just more you.
Q: Do you guys plan on continuing road of knives?
A: The larger question there is 'Do you guys plan?' And the answer to that is 'No'.
Q: Firstly, what do you think makes art art?
A: The same thing that makes a paperweight a paperweight--someone takes an object and decides to start marketing it to an audience that buys paperweights.
I think a more interesting question is why someone would do that--why would someone market an object as art? Usually because they wanted to make it
and couldn't think of any other way to make enough money off it to afford to make more. Art is sort of the category you put a thing in if it's probably
useless for any other purpose. Art is the commercial category of last resort. If you consistently made sculptures that could double as a luxury bathtubs you would
sell them as luxury bathtubs. Art is like saying 'I don't know what is going to be up with this thing when I'm done, so I'm just going to call it art now so nobody
has any expectations.'
Q: Have you ever looked back at any of your work and found in retrospect that any of it violates or at least sits uncomfortably with your own definition of what art is?
A: I've made some things I--looking back--didn't like, which is way worse. Not making art--everybody does that. Making bad art? I just made the world uglier.
More karma to work off.
Q: What is porn?
A: It's a lot like a paperweight.
Q: Art has always explored territory that science was too immature to even look toward, how do you think your art is leading science and what direction
would you like to guide society with your art?
A: Toward pleasure and away from babies, money, and god.
Q: Do you ever do commissioned work?
Q: Or have you ever done so in the past?
A: When I was a kid I made money doing tattoo flash and truck decals and other trashy drawing chores.
Q: Do you think art work about the human body and sexual experience will ever become banal like most landscapes?
A: I don't think the banality of landscapes is unique to our era. I think they were--for the most part--always dull to anyone with an imagination. I mean, giant grey
slab art is popular today among neurotic cowards--I think most landscape painters were the Sol LeWitts of their era. There will always be
people who are terrified of life and need more empty space and these people have always been more susceptible to fashion than people with
brains and nervous systems and better things to do than sit in a corner muttering Tibetan serenity prayers to themselves.
As for art about sex--subject matter is like ingredients. Some recipes need pickles and some don't.
Q: If you could collaborate on a project with 3 people from any time in history, whom would you ask?
A: I think most of the best artists in history are alive today. Road of Knives is about as collaboratey as I'd like to get with other artists. As for
writers I'm already talking to a few and don't want to jinx it.
Q: This one might be dumb, but assume reality is created by consciousness, then what do we make of evolution and history? is the individual mind powerful enough to have constructed eons of information, or, at least, the memory of it, as well as strong enough to impose rules, both artificial (like a legal system) and natural (like the theories built on scientific method of objectively observable data)? can it then break natural law somehow? how would that be done?
A: Please stop watching The Matrix and go outside. Or, barring that, at least read Viriconium for a more interesting take on neognosticism.
Q: What is your biggest grievance/conflict about being a gallery represented artist?
A: Being a gallery-represented artist is way better than most peoples' jobs and nothing to complain about. The art world at large can be a bit of a drag
if you expect it to be intellectually vibrant, but if you expect it to be about as good as the office Christmas party and if you have something else going
on that starts around 11pm you'll be ok.
Did a visiting artist thing at a university today, everyone was very nice and kept asking me
to sign things. I'm always surprised how these auditoriums are full. And the kids are doing good work. Lots of questions, but no angry antisexuals (Are they all dead? Or do they just know enough to stay away by now?)
Came back to the hotel and plugged into the wi-fi, noticed Matt Kish's Gravity's Rainbow Illustrated-inspired book is going over well, and China Mieville is talking about me, too.
It is really easy to forget, in the little room at the little desk with one window--watching Mandy run through Mass Effect 2 for the 8th time because she's too sick to do anything else and showing her sister how to use a can opener--or in living in LA where everyone's got other things on their mind--that there's a world out there with people in it and they are actually noticing the things you do.
Anyway, when will I be back at home, near my scanner and be able put up some pictures? Don't know. January if not earlier.
Keep in touch.
Zak Smith will give an artist lecture from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 13 in Room 100 of the Visual Arts Building (Jack Arends Hall) on the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb. A reception will follow in the main gallery."
I am sitting here painting stuff right now, though.
(in progress)(acrylic on paper)
freeway sections closed for repairs today in LA. 'carmegeddon'. not so bad, actually. took a lot of public transportation into the valley so I could paint Charlotte Stokely. Huge bulldogs at her house look like the things Rick Moranis turns into in Ghostbusters. dead cars all over the lawn.
outer LA seems depressing at first--just a sort of hypersuburb--then you see some lunatic in surfer shorts shrieking at a security camera and realize that it isn't actually as boring as it looks. probably goes for the whole country. architecture is letting us down..
Artillery Magazine debate a few days ago, didn't lose.
i have a column there, at Artillery magazine. starting to like it.
hey zak how come you haven't posted anything in so long
Because it takes a long time to paint these things that's why
So why does it say "updated daily"?--well it is sometimes, but right now I'm pretty busy
this painting needs a few more hours
this is the break
i am filling the break i am taking with posting this picture
i always wonder what those painters who like paint 3 lines and then sell that do all day
ok, back to work
Sometimes I talked about things, and said "Look, there's a thing, let's talk about it, let's talk about how it's bad., it didn't work, it's dumb."
And people would say "You're an artist, that's special, it's special to be an artist"
And I'd say "No I'm not, look at all these crap artists. It's not special. I just am doing the thing that I have to do."
And older artists would talk like it was voodoo super magic to be an artist. Hippies.
But now, seriously, I am reconsidering. I feel, increasingly, like things are settled, like everyone thinks they know how things are supposed to be, and how they are supposed to be is in a box. There are boxes.
The boxes are like: movie, reality tv, post-radioheadband, little gallery with a picture in it, little book for housewives who went to college to read. Little boxes for little artists to be in so they can be part of this economy and world. And there's no chance any of these things will spill out of the boxes that they are in. No one expects them to do anything, result in anything. As a creative person, you provide a service so that people with brains can stay entertained enough to not blow those brains out so we can keep putting them to work for us. You're like the movie on the plane. Nice. We're flying a plane here. Keep it rolling. Soon we will arrive.
There's a cynical, hipster-Tshirt, pillpoppped, tired Vice Magazine reading oh-we're-all-grownups-here thing here that is saying Oh come on, one day you will be one of them, to survive you will be one of them, and only Them run things. So grow up. Stop expecting to not be in the box. Maybe wait for a computer geek to make a new and interesting box. Have a drink. Have a cigar. The best it can get is basically Bill Clinton America. Lets go for that. Yeah, let's do that. That was fun, right? You'll have a house, you'll have a job. Maybe everyone will have a house and a job. A chicken in every pot. What could possibly be better than a chicken in every pot? Especially in this economy. Doesn't that sound like heaven?
You cannot make art like that. You can't make art assuming it's a thing to go in a box to be checked. Even if it will go in a box and that's it. Things do not have to be this way. Things do not have to be this way. Things can be anything.
Please, everyone: do things anyway. Do them. I am sure it looks hopeless now: Like, at best, like some scheme for one more person to get a house. But it's not. You can get out of the box. Humans can get out of boxes. Always have. If we can't, there's no art, there's no fun. there's no anything. Do it anyway, and know that it gets better. Know that if you are still doing it in this world, under these conditions, in this situation which is designed in every detail and on every level to constantly compare you to the lamest possible interpretation of you, then you are doing something,
I was cynical for a long long time. I am cynical. Cynicism is good and will help you. But do the thing that you do. Perform far beyond and outside the expectations. Without it, without the conviction that it doesn't have to be this way, then it does.
Every single one of you. Do it. And know that one day, they will thank you for having kept on doing it, when it was so unfashionable to do anything but make more money and joke about how once you thought you could do it.
Please do things, Please. One day someone will thank you for it. They will look back and say "Oh thank god people kept doing things, despite the constant derision poured on things and the doing of them". Please do things. Please. Please.
(or "It's Called Paint and It Comes In Little Tubes")
This entry consists entirely of technical details about how I paint my paintings. It is dull. I am not posting it because I think you all want to hear about it, but because I get lots of e-mails and art reviews wondering about the mysterious alchemical processes I use to create my work and I am creating this page so that some of these lost souls might find it. (Thus all the google fodder up top).
So, the paintings:
the paintings are painted with acrylic paint. the black stuff is acrylic paint. the grey stuff is acrylic paint. the other colors are acrylic paint. the silver and gold stuff, if there is any, is metallic ink (gel rollers).
the process is as follows: I take a very small paint brush with wet paint on it, put it on the paper, and move my hand around. There is no magic or machinery involved and it is done freehand. Sometimes I look at a real thing or person and paint it, sometimes its a picture i took, and sometimes i just make it up. How to tell? If its a picture with a title like "Lisa" then probably that's from real life, if it's, say, a zebra-man with two samurai next to it, then that's made up.
"What kind of paint?" The cheapest kind they have at whatever store I am at.
"What kind of paper?" I never buy paper. I usually just find it. I use anything with a slick surface that doesn't absorb paint, and is think enough that the acrylic won't warp it. I am not picky. The backs of posters or pieces of foam-core are probably the easiest thing for most people to find.
Ok, the drawings:
The drawings are generally made with black ink. in whatever pen is closest. usually a pigma micron or a uniball micro. if it has a lot of really careful hatching then it's probably a pigma micron 005. again, freehand, again, no magic.
what kind of paper? whatever paper is around.
Zak Smith draws drawing paints paint painting technique uses paper plastic Zak Smith uses paint paper technical details brushes acrylic painting acrylic paint technique pens pencils puppies guppies painter paints zach Smith zachary smith zack smith zac smith paints with uses
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
A Show About Nothing
October 7 through November 6, 2010
Opening reception: October 7, 6 to 8 pm
Fredericks & Freiser is pleased to announce an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Zak Smith. Unfortunately, he has once again refused to make art about anything, which does make it rather difficult to write a traditional press release.
We keep asking "Hey Zak, is this 20-foot drawing you made intended to subtly undermine normative assumptions about the relationship of public to private spaces in our increasingly de-centered psychosocial environment?" and he keeps saying things like "No." Or we say, "Zak, are these paintings of porn actresses that you know meant to offer a critical counter-narrative to popular depictions of gender?" and he says, "Nope. Maybe you could fill out the press release by using one of those on-line postmodern text generators."
"We tried that, and got: 'Debord's critique of the structural paradigm of discourse suggests that sexual identity has objective value. Several deconstructivisms concerning nihilism may be revealed.' But Zak, our attachment to outdated Judeo-Christian cultural assumptions demands that we can't allow ourselves to accept pleasure unless it has meaning. Plus, y'know, we need a paragraph where we quote you saying something smart."
"How about: 'Meaning is the most interesting thing about a bad painting and the least interesting thing about a good painting'? Can I go now? I have a lot of work to do."
We do find some consolation, however, in the fact that the pictures are excruciatingly beautiful.
About The Artist
Zak Smith was born in 1976 and lives and works in Los Angeles. His work is, somewhat surprisingly, included in several public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Saatchi Gallery, London; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, where his work was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. His work has also been exhibited at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Contemporary Museum of Art, Baltimore; The National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC; and The Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. In addition to his recently published memoir We Did Porn, two books of his art work have been published--Pictures of Girls and Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow. This is his fifth show at Fredericks & Freiser.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
A Show About Nothing
October 7th through November 6th, 2010
Fredericks and Freiser Gallery is distressed to have to announce that Zak Smith keeps refusing to make art about anything and we don't know why.
We keep going "Hey Zak, is this 20-foot drawing you made intended to subtly undermine normative assumptions about the relationship of public to private spaces in our
increasingly de-centred psychosocial environment?" and he keeps saying things like "No."
Or we say "Zak, are these paintings of porn actresses that you know meant to offer a critical counternarrative to popular depictions of gender and sexuality?" and he goes "Nope."
And we keep saying, "Hey, come on, make some conceptual art. That's what everyone's doing and it's terribly thought-provoking--haven't you noticed how much more thoughtful
people are these days? And we know you're into, like, politics and stuff, conceptual art is really progressive--look at all this progress we're constantly seeing thanks to the phenomenal impact conceptual art's
had on everyone."
But he doesn't listen, he keeps just making pictures that are pretty. Well, beautiful. I mean, ok, we have to admit the pictures are truly gorgeous and more visually absorbing than anything
we've ever seen. But, really--come on--this is a side issue. Unparalleled and visceral sensual pleasure--is anybody really interested in that? These are difficult times and we keep trying to
explain to Smith that the only way to tackle them is to hire some assistant to make something extremely boring and give it a title that sounds like some stoner trying to remember something Nietzsche said. But
Zak Smith just keeps not making conceptual art.
"But it's so subversive and sophisticated!" we say "And it makes money!"
"No," he says "I have to stay here at my desk and finish making this look pretty."
"But our attachment to outdated Judeo-Christian cultural assumptions demands we can't allow ourselves to accept pleasure unless it has some meaning."
"Sucks to be you, I guess."
"What about that thing Roland Barthes said--'Everything has a meaning, or nothing has. To put it another way, one could say that art is without noise'. I mean the pictures must mean something, right?"
"Maybe. Who cares?"
"But it's ok if we tell people they mean something, right? Like they might be able to put their own meaning in there if they want?"
About The Artist:
Zak Smith was born in 1976 and lives in works in Los Angeles. His work is, somewhat surprisingly, included in several public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Whitney Museum of American Art. His work has been exhibited at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh, The Contemporary Museum of Art, Baltimore; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, where he was included in the 2004 Whitney Biennial. In addition to his recently published memoir "We Did Porn" about his experiences "acting" in adult films, two books of his artwork have been published--"Pictures of Girls" and "Pictures Showing What Happens on Each Page of Thomas Pynchon's Novel Gravity's Rainbow".
alphabetize all your music by song title (it's easy if you've got itunes or whatever) then read off the songs starting with the word "I". You get a little poem. Here's Mandy's:
i am the gestapo
i am the walrus
i can see you
i don't give a shit
i don't know where I'm bound
i don't mind
i felt the luxury
i fought the law
i found the reason
i got stripes
i got stripes
i hate myself and i want to die
i hate you
i just want to make love to you
i know what i want
i love rock n roll
i need lunch
i need more
i never cry
i never cry
i never cry
i put a spell on you
i see a darkness
i still love you julie
l still miss someone
i still miss someone
i still miss someone
i tamper with evidence at...
i think i'm paranoid
i think i'm paranoid
i think that i would die
i tried to leave you
i walk the line
i walk the line
i walked with a zombie
i wanna be me
i wanna be sedated
i want you
i want you back again
i want you!
i wasn't born to follow
i won't back down
i won't back down
i won't back down
i won't be the one
i'll be with you tonight
i'll be your baby tonight
i'll get you
i'll go back
i'll rise up
i'll rise up
i'm a african
i'm a man
i'm a mindless idiot
i'm always chasing rainbows
i'm gonna love you, too
i'm gonna run away
i'm in love
i'm in love again
i'm into your game
i'm leavin' now
i'm looking through you
i'm not down
i'm not your stepping stone
i'm so bored with the USA
i'm the coolest
i've got my friends
i've heard it before
at Fredericks Freiser Gallery, New York in mid-October.
Too busy to scan stuff. But I'll get back on it soon as I can.
Like everyone else, at a certain point, several hours in, you begin to wonder if doing your job is insane. And, like everyone else, the first evidence that it's not is that you get paid for it.
When you're a professional artist, however, the thought process doesn't stop there. The fact is, doing enough to simply get paid doesn't take that long. Once you're somewhat established, you can easily get five figures for something that takes you less than ten minutes to make. A contemporary fine artist can draw a face on a bottle cap with a sharpie and make enough to feed a growing child for ten years.
What takes up the vast majority of the time is making the thing good. This process is made strange by the fact that the customers don't notice when it's not good. Ask any full-time painter, sculptor, video artist, whatever--what they subjectively consider their fuck-ups sell as well as anything else. But, nevertheless, you put in hours trying to make it good. Trying to make it, in fact, unlike anything you've seen before.
It's like you come into work at Taco Bell at and your job is to get one taco made. You make it, and so at your boss is like "Hey that is a beautiful taco, whenever you wanna go home is fine, see ya later." Then you stay in the kitchen and spend the next seven hours and fifty minutes making the taco better.
Why do you do that?
Well part of it is you get to eat the taco--that is, you get to see the art when it's finished. Now I will not deny that it's a good and worthy thing to see some good art. But I also know that given several hours of free time in New York, I routinely choose to hang out with my friends and do (roughly) nothing instead of go to see all the amazing art that's housed in various public and private collections all over the city, and even if I was with my friends someplace I'd never been like, say, Java, I'd be just as likely to hang out with my friends and do nothing than go to the temple at Borobodur (which I've always wanted to see and which I'm sure is incredible and beautiful).
In other words, when I'm sitting at my desk trying to make something good and therefore choosing to put effort toward eventually seeing some good art rather than just spending an equal amount of time at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles or in Tahiti or wherever doing nothing with my friends, there must be some other force at work.
The only other major factor I can think of is, well, you've started this thing, and if you sell it before you think it's good--before it conforms to your own personal standards of what's good--then you know that you are an asshole. You are just one more dickhead cluttering up the universe with lackluster visual information in order to make money. You do that and suddenly you're no better than the people who clutter up the world with lozenge-shaped cars and empire-waist dresses and crocs and bad art and beige things. And you don't want to do that.
Of course you wouldn't be in any danger of doing that if you hadn't decided to make something in the first place.
But if you didn't make something you wouldn't get paid and you wouldn't get to eat.
So, because you want to eat, you make something--which doesn't take very long at all. But, because you want the luxury of self-respect, you have to make it good, unlike anything you've ever seen before, which takes forever.
"Intelligent, frank and often hilarious meditation on the author's dual career...The pleasure in this book comes not from living through the author's atypical experience, but in being taken deeper into areas of thought commonly perceived as taboo--a wild, entirely worthwhile ride." ."--Kirkus Reviews
"Smith's take on the industry is vivid and insightful, including observations on people, politics and American culture--the push-and-pull between the Right and those who want the right to screw."--Kirkus Reviews, Nonfiction Supplement
"A fascinating synthesis of words and art..."--LibraryJournal.com
"An intelligent, funny, and self-aware reminder that intelligent, funny, and self-aware people do in fact choose to work in the porn industry...It is all incredibly interesting and entertaining."--Alison Hallett, The Portland Mercury
"The subject matter -- combined with his clever imagery -- couldn't help but keep it fascinating... It reminded me of David Foster Wallace's hilarious, equally dense essay "Big Red Son"...Smith and Wallace have similarly breathless, heady writing styles and We Did Porn could easily serve as a porn insider's compliment to Wallace's journalistic-outsider perspective."--Alex Peterson, Willamette Week Online
"Wildly entertaining." --Fleshbot
"...a page-turner...a genuinely enjoyable read..." --Audacia Ray, author of Naked on the Internet
"Alongside 'fine artist and 'porn star' on Zak Smith's unique resume, you can now add the phrase 'entertaining and resourceful writer'...[We Did Porn] is exhaustive, perceptive, empathic, and very funny."--John Bolster, Penthouse
"We Did Porn is probably my favorite book of the year...unlike any book I've ever read before."
-Stephen Elliott, author of Happy Baby and The Adderall Diaries,
"...reads not unlike a George Plimpton-style adventure in immersive investigation, as the artist chronicles his adventures in front of the camera as eager rookie Zak Sabbath, with words, pictures, self-awareness, and dark humor." --Shana Nys Dambrot, Flavorpill
"...Smith is an outrageously talented observer, which makes his writing almost as arresting as his images, which are superb. Smith's detailed descriptions of 'life in the zeros' both on and off the set make We did Porn a fascinating x-rates documents of a cynical age." --Jim Ruland, Girls Gone Wild Magazine
"...combines words and images, mixing memoir with gorgeous paintings...Smith's art is exquisite, intensely drawn with splashes of electric colors, sharp lines and energy throbbing in every complex detail...We Did Porn is an excellent book and Zak Smith is an incredibly interesting artist and writer."--Alyssa Bianca-Pavley, Fanzine.com
"The many crosscurrents in Smith's works are fun, but more compelling is the fact that Smith does not seem so much involved in critique as something else from literary post-modernism--he's leapt into his own work as a character...Smith seems headed towards the historiographic, creatively narrating an alternative history, in this case, of a very recent past moment, from what might be perceived as the center of our authentic cultural life." --Joe Fyfe, Artnet.com
"His prose spirals smart and sharp as concertina wire, his judgments are merciless, and he's got enviable comic timing."
--Justin Taylor, The Faster Times
I feel like saying this, though: It does not bother me at all when people don't like my work. It does bother me immensely when people who write about me can't get simple facts right. It makes me feel like there's no point to trying to communicate at all. Why write a book explaining your point of view if people will walk away from it thinking it's the exact opposite of what you just wrote?
Why write this? Why talk to anyone?
still coming up:
Barnes and Nobles New Haven, CT Monday July 13 6:00 pm yale.bncollege.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/BNCBHomePage?storeId=16556&catalogId=10001&langId=-1
Museum of Sex NY Tuesday July 14 7:30 PM http://www.museumofsex.com/
(with Jonathan Ames and Reverend Jen)
McNally Jackson Booksellers NY Wednesday 15-Jul 7:00 PM mcnallyjackson.com/
St. Mark's NY Thursday 16-Jul 7:30 PM www.stmarksbookshop.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp (it's not technically there--it's near there and sponsored by St Marks books)
Skylight Books Los Angeles, CA Friday July 31 7:30 pm www.skylightbooks.com
Bookslut Chicago, IL Tuesday August 4 7:30 pm http://www.bookslut.com/readings.html
Bumbershoot fest Seattle Sept 6
London and Minneapolis to be announced.
In the meantime, please do check out this:
I've been interviewing other artists for The Rumpus--if you like me, you might like them, too...
1 Disjecta Portland, OR Thursday June 18 7:00 pm http://www.disjecta.org/main.php
2 Book Soup Los Angeles, CA Wednesday July 1 7:00 pm www.booksoup.com
3 Rumpus Room San Francisco, CA Tuesday July 7 TBD therumpus.net/
4 Moe's Books Berkeley, CA Wednesday July 8 7:30 PM www.moesbooks.com
5 City Lights San Francisco, CA Thursday July 9 7:00 PM www.citylights.com
6 Barnes and Nobles New Haven, CT Monday July 13 6:00 pm yale.bncollege.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/BNCBHomePage?storeId=16556&catalogId=10001&langId=-1
7 Museum of Sex NY Tuesday July 14 7:30 PM http://www.museumofsex.com/
8 McNally Jackson Booksellers NY Wednesday 15-Jul 7:00 PM mcnallyjackson.com/
9 St. Mark's NY Thursday 16-Jul 7:30 PM www.stmarksbookshop.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp
10 Skylight Books Los Angeles, CA Friday July 31 7:30 pm www.skylightbooks.com
11 Bookslut Chicago, IL Tuesday August 4 7:30 pm http://www.bookslut.com/readings.html
12 Bumbershoot fest Seattle Sept 6
The purpose of this guide is to help you participate constructively in the Iranian election protests through Twitter.
1. Do NOT publicise proxy IP's over twitter, and especially not using the #iranelection hashtag. Security forces are monitoring this hashtag, and the moment they identify a proxy IP they will block it in Iran. If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09 and they will distributed them discretely to bloggers in Iran.
2. Hashtags, the only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88, other hashtag ideas run the risk of diluting the conversation.
3. Keep you bull$hit filter up! Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. Please don't retweet impetuosly, try to confirm information with reliable sources before retweeting. The legitimate sources are not hard to find and follow.
4. Help cover the bloggers: change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. Security forces are hunting for bloggers using location and timezone searches. If we all become 'Iranians' it becomes much harder to find them.
5. Don't blow their cover! If you discover a genuine source, please don't publicise their name or location on a website. These bloggers are in REAL danger. Spread the word discretely through your own networks but don't signpost them to the security forces. People are dying there, for real, please keep that in mind...
p.s. Here's how to set up an alternate IP to help Iranian citizens get around the government firewall:
The goal of academic contemporary art seems to be to make the gallery just like a church: a place where dutiful people can go once a week to get so bored that they grow introspective.
"Since someone will forever be surprising-from "Church-Going", by Philip Larkin
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round."
Like everyone else, I have a limited and self-selected circle of friends. They fit broadly into a few categories: musicians, people in porn or otherwise in the sex industry, other artists, a handful of jack-of-several-trades writer/comedian/filmmaker types trying to get books published or screenplays sold or shows pitched, and a few other otherwise creative-type people. No surprises there.
Also like everyone
else, it often seems to me like my friends have nothing in common with each
other. I can't imagine inviting the stripper
who drives the car with Tank Girl drawn on it to the same party with the
postmodern literature expert from
Here are some things they all assume:
1-It is ordinary for adults to like punk rock, heavy metal and/or hip-hop. Anyone who is alive in 2009, interesting, and between the ages of 15 and 40 who doesn't like at least one of those three kinds of music must have lead a strangely sheltered life.
2-Some people have tattoos or piercings or possibly hair dyed an unnatural color. Some people have beards and some people have glasses. None of this means anything much or tells you anything much about the person by itself.
3-Sexualized pictures of women aren't necessarily sexist or misogynistic, they're just evidence that whoever made them has an ordinary sex drive. Furthermore, a decent chunk of the female population likes these kinds of pictures and gets turned on by them.
4-Sexual promiscuity is neither good nor bad in and of itself.
5-Conceptual art and any other art that is justified only by its concept or subject, is the product of a plutocratic conspiracy and is deeply conservative. (This one only applies to my friends who are aware of conceptual art. There are those who are unaware of it and don't ever go into museums, mostly because they assume museums are full of boring art which the other friends would identify as: Conceptual.)
6-Art should look good. If it doesn't, it's bad art.
7-It is natural to look at street art, illustration, and commercial photography the same way you'd look at art in a gallery and a great deal of innovation can be found in these media if you look carefully.
A thing I'd like to say immediately here is: I don't regard any of these assumptions as particularly original or eccentric or hip and groovy. I'm not particularly proud (or ashamed) of any of these assumptions. This is not an essay where I mean to drop radical new beliefs on a stunned and appreciative reader. These assumptions aren't, for the most part, things I talk about with friends at all. These are just a few of the ordinary background assumptions of daily life, right up there with "water is wet" and "it hurts to fall on concrete".
Now, all these people have a lot of other things in common like, say they think George W. Bush was the worst president since at least Nixon and possibly the worst ever, but I'm not including these in the list. I'm not including them since these assumptions are ones which are shared with the vast majority of the art-viewing public. People who might have read the "Arts" section in a newspaper at least once, basically. Assumptions 1-7 are not necessarily shared by this entire demographic, though I often--often--VERY often--forget that.
So what is my point? Getting to it. Hold on.
So: I've been looking over old reviews of artists I know and artists I like, and some old reviews of my stuff, too. What I noticed is that 70-80 percent of the reviews and comments about the art aren't arguing with the quality of the art itself, but with one of the above assumptions. Like a reviewer will spend half a review talking about how an artist's work is "like graffiti" and whether or not that's ok and what that could possibly mean, or people will write an entire article about whether or not a painter is misogynistic without addressing the issue of whether they're any good at making paintings you'd want to look at or not, or a reviewer will seem to think announcing that an artist's work "lacks a conceptual foundation" is a way to finish a review rather than a way to start a review.
Worse--and funnier--than this, is when the critic thinks that, just because an artist's work implies a belief in one of the above assumptions, it's a calculated attempt to provoke the critic or the public.
a minute that your mother is teleported to a Taliban-controlled village in
won't understand that your mother's shorts, rather than representing an attempt
to communicate with them, are just
what you wear when you're gardening.
Likewise, a great number of people who
talk about art don't realize that an artist having a tattoo on his neck is not
a statement meant to elicit any kind of reaction from them, it's just something that happens to be there for reasons that
are local and private and have to do with a separate social world and which don't
evaporate when the artist momentarily appears in public.
Which is all to say that I still get more surprised then I want to when I read stuff about me where people seem bent on finding meaning--good or bad--in the fact that I look like a punk or that I paint women in--occasionally--provocative poses rather than in whether those pictures by that punk are well-executed or not. I know I shouldn't be surprised--that's not very "media savvy" is it, Zak? But, really, it never ceases to surprise me that people who write about culture professionally care about things I--and everyone I deal with all day--think of as normal and utterly unremarkable and uncontroversial.
that I like Leftover Crack is no more a statement than the fact that a Swiss person
being born in
you could argue that I have a choice about letting
people know what I like and don't like, which is true. But I feel like me changing the way I act
just in case a magazine photographer shows up would be kinda like your mom
changing the way she dresses just in case a Muslim extremist shows up. This is
All of this
comes up now because I just wrote a book and the reviews will be rolling in any
time soon. It's a nonfiction book about
what it's like to work in porn, (with lots of drawings). Maybe the book is well-written, maybe it is poorly-written,
I have edited and re-edited it so many times that I've lost the ability to
tell. I just hope that when the reviews
come in they represent attempts to decide which of those two things it is,
rather than attempts to teleport me to
But maybe I'll manage it. Stay tuned.
and press the blue button
posting it here because I just re-read it and remembered I like it.
I get this a lot at every Armory Show, and this year I got it three times, from two collectors and a curator:
"What are you doing here? Artists shouldn't go to art fairs!"
Why not?--there's lots of art, it's conveniently heaped in one place, it's free if you're in the show...
"But," they say, "art fairs are so much about buying and selling." One of them says, "I mean, I eat sausages but I don't want to see how they're made..."
So he's saying: sausages are money. And so the art is a pig. Which makes Pier 94, the location of this year's Armory Show, like one of those hog-choked mazes of rust and blood-mist through which the four-legged raw materials of the modern pork industry stumble as they are funneled toward death. (And I suppose this mean that work like mine, work that's in the show but isn't for sale, is like somebody's pet pig, but whatever...)
Now, personally, I like to eat sausages and I'd say it'd be unethical of me to eat them if I wasn't willing to watch a hog get stabbed in the neck after being shoved in a box and shocked with tongs. The mental image of artists held by those curators, critics, collectors and dealers who suggest artists should stay away from the Armory Show is apparently of a sensitive but useful hypocrite that likes, or at least needs, money, but goes all skittish and confused at the sight of commerce.
Which begs the question of just exactly what illusions they think we frail and imaginative creatures have about what happens to our stuff once we drop it off downtown: what exactly do they think we think they do all day? Do they think we imagine the work lies in well-lit state somewhere sending out aesthetic vibrations until generous patrons who have made their fortunes by feeding hungry Sri Lankans are inexplicably drawn to hail taxis and demand that the cab drivers follow the spiritual ache to its source? You have to wonder why they'd have any respect at all for art--it being the products of such painfully deluded minds. (All this is especially baffling considering that maybe 20 percent of all the work you see at any art fair self-consciously and explicitly comments on the commercialism of the art world in general and occasionally art fairs in particular.)
For the record, we actually imagine it goes like this: Hi! Kiss kiss! How's the baby? How's the renovation? I have a great new artist you have to see! Wonderful! You see he's from bullshitbullshitbullshit and his work is based on bullshitbullshitbullshit. Oh really? Well lately I've been interested in bullshitbullshitTOTALbullshit. In that case, you should buy this, or maybe the bigger one over there. The big one? Do you think I should? Yes, I think you should! Sold! Sold! Sausages for everyone!
And professional artists have to decide to either be ok with that or else get another job and make much less art, just as carnivores have to decide to be ok with sticking-knives and sustained and horrible squealing or else eat tofu.
There is, I suppose, another possibility, and I find it almost touching: perhaps the patrons and presenters don't fear the revelation of themselves as businessmen, but the diminishment of themselves as impressarios.
Have you ever heard a dealer or curator describe their space? "We've put in a new center wall running fifteen yards from here and we've just installed new lights from here to here and we're showing a lot of female artists and artists of color and there's a video projector here and..." It is so unbelievably cute. And the artist who is thinking about maybe showing there numbly nods and goes, "So it has a floor and a ceiling and walls, right?"
"Oh yes! Certainly! Wonderful floors..."
"Fantastic. I'll call you."
"Ummm...do you want to see the space first?"
"See it? Uh...why?"
Why? Because, hilariously, many of the art middlemen and middlewomen who caution artists to stay away from art fairs believe in context--that is, they believe that a Degas in their collection is different than the same Degas in their cousin's collection, that a video projected on the wall of Luhring Augustine is different than the same video projected on the wall of the Guggenheim, that your art on a gallery wall is different than your art on a flimsy wall at a fair, and, of course, that a urinal in a bathroom is different than a urinal on a pedestal. They believe, in other words, that their job is necessary for some reason other than the basic realities of life between the gears of capitalism. And they think artists also believe this. It's really cute.
Of course, there actually are artists who think like that, and they are well paid for it. In fact, many critics, collectors and curators are so flattered by artists who think and act just like them that the artists have managed to carve out a very sizable and cash-efficient subgenre of art by creating works which do nothing but criticize, curate or collect things that other people have made and seen long before. You can see how these cautious and conservative souls might be shy of gore and grunts and deathsqueals--maybe they despise the fact that their sublime re-captioning of a USA Today photo or the delicate charm of their display of precisely the right number of pictures of Sheryl Tiegs to match their age when they first masturbated to a picture of Sheryl Tiegs must compete for attention with something painted primary colors and dipped in resin and three guys on cells and a waiter asking you if you want a stuffed mushroom.
The rest of us, however, got into this business in the hope of seeing exotic and desirable new things, and, as of 2007, have long ago become impatient enough to ignore pretty much any kind of lunacy, including wading waist-deep in doomed hogs, to do it. In fact, most artists I know consider art fairs to be, given the options, the best way to see contemporary art. It beats randomly doing galleries--tottering through stairwells and elevator shafts for eight hours and realizing on the subway ride home that you saw about ten artists total and didn't like any. And it beats big museum surveys--which are pretty much like the Armory only with less to see and the constant, looming threat of explanatory wall text.
Granted, we prefer our own work to be displayed in solo shows or in museums, because we know this generates an underlying assumption that people who control large rooms think our work is worth looking at and therefore keeps us fed, but in order to honestly judge people's art, we like to see it at its worst. Pamphlet-free, curatorial-strategy-free, context-free. To the viewer grown suitably desperate, the good stuff bats its lashes like a smart piggy going through the last gate--Oh please look at me before I'm a sausage!
And aside from the delights of pure and unfiltered volume, art fairs offer, like any confrontation with reality, healthy reminders and object lessons for anyone bent on making very good art. You need to know that that guy will make up a story about your father dying in order to sell the work, you need to know that no-one recognizes the celebrity you painted, you need to know that they'll walk by without looking, you need to know that they'll look and keep walking, you need to know that his show happened because his mother was on the board, you need to know they're putting it in the nursery, you need to know they're sending it straight to the warehouse, you need to know that the dominant tone in art this year is a sort of aggressive mildness or indecisiveness epitomized by huge objects in beige or light grey, you need to know that they wanted their money back when they heard it was done by computer, you need to know that they wanted their money back when they heard it wasn't, you need to know your drawing will be mistaken for a collage, you need to know your sculpture will be possessed carnally by small dogs, you need to know that the person who bought it owns a small dog, you need to know that the people who like it still don't get it, you need to know that the people who get it still think it's stupid, you need to know people who say they get it keep buying things strongly implying that they don't get it (and for more money), you need to know things were like this long before you showed up, you need to know things will be like this after you're dead. You need to know because artists need to know that whatever the things they make are supposed to do, they must be things that can be done under these conditions.
So when the show comes to town, go see the show. See the pigs while you still can.