“All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling. To be natural is to be obvious, and to be obvious is to be inartistic.”

Oscar Wilde


I do think that there’s some truth in this statement especially when we consider it in relation to what drives and motivates an artistic practice. I am not sure how a practice can be entirely ‘pure’ or ‘sincere’ when in some ways or another we are inevitably part of a larger ecosystem and within its mechanism are at times complicit, in others, rebellious. There is a modality of expression through irony, there is an honesty in radically projecting your dishonesty. We have thoughts that we aren’t supposed to think about but are thinking about it anyways. That’s an aspect of radical vulnerability, that we are spectacular in all our miscomings.

All I am trying to say is that we have certain ideas and conception of what being ‘genuine’ or ‘sincere’ means. We romanticise these ideas and shame anyone who doesn’t feed into these categories. But these moments of ‘insincerity’ can point to some forms of lack in a person (whether it’s childhood repression, insecurities, etc.) and we’re all trying to navigate all that.

What defines what is ‘authentic’ and what is not?


“I believe that every artist means everything they’re doing, that no one is making art just to make money or pull the wool over people’s eyes. All artists may want to make money and be loved, but at base they are still serious about their art.”

Jerry Saltz, “My Life As a Failed Artist,” Vulture, April 18, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017, http://www.vulture.com/2013/03/saltz-on-the-death-of-art-gallery-shows.html.

“Being an artist also made me realize that I wasn’t built for the type of loneliness that comes from art. Art is slow, physical, resistant, material-based, and involves an ongoing commitment to doing the same thing differently over and over again in the studio. As my wife, Roberta Smith, the co–chief art critic at the New York Times, has said many times, “Being a weekly critic is like performing live onstage.” Every week. I love and live for that jolt. Criticism involves constant change, drama, information coming in from the outside, processing it in the moment in front of everyone, always being in the here and now while also trying to access history and experience. H. L. Mencken is quoted, describing his own work, as saying it’s best when “it’s written in heat and printed at once.” That’s what I want, what I need, who I am. I have a tropism toward reaction.

I can’t only dance naked in private. I have to dance naked in public. A lot.”

“Wilde also wrote that “the vague is always repellent.” My work was “generic” and “impersonal” because of the 1970s post-minimal ways I was working. I wanted to transcend memories, achieve accessible complexity, and enter history from the side. Instead, my art might be able to produce flashes of beauty but couldn’t gain emotional traction; create depth, mystery; impart its secrets, ironies, drama, or cross the threshold of history. I was blinded by the rules I made.”

Jerry Saltz, “My Life As a Failed Artist,” Vulture, April 18, 2017, accessed April 19, 2017, http://www.vulture.com/2013/03/saltz-on-the-death-of-art-gallery-shows.html.

I feel I know Gordon through his work and ask if that is because much of it includes himself. “Most artists would say that everything becomes a huge self-portrait. I don’t know if that would be accurate.

“Half your time you are trying to hide things and half your time you are trying to make things explicit.” In the end, it is all about “psychological archaeology”.

Douglas Gordon, “In the Studio: Douglas Gordon, artist,” The Independent, 2013, accessed February 15, 2017.

“I’m a big believer in what I call “radical vulnerability”: when somebody is hearing, reading, seeing me they have a sense that they’re getting at what I might really be.”

“We are all dancing naked in public, and I am trying to be myself as much as possible without too much faking it.”

Jerry Saltz, Interview with Cody Delistrarty, “Dancing Naked in Public,” Longreads, September 2016, accessed January 9, 2017.

 

“I don’t look for skill in art; I look for originality, surprise, obsession, energy, experimentation, something visionary, and a willingness to embarrass oneself in public.”

Jerry Saltz, “Seeing Out Loud,” The Village Voice, December 13, 2005, accessed January 9, 2017.