Sunday, May 31, 2009

The MFA Grind

No Signal
No Signal: Matthew Metzger (left) and Mike Schuh (right) in the hot seat during their public talk for their MFA thesis exhibition: No Sudden Moves.

The Newcity has a cover feature by MFA programs in Chicago by Rachel Furnari, pick up a copy. The University of Chicago is discussed along with Northwestern, Columbia, UIC and SAIC. You can read it online, but the hardcopy is worth getting, the cover features a great painting of Survivor's re-release of "Eye of The Tiger" from Rocky III by Matthew Metzgrrr! Inside are more images than online, such as my ORANGE MONOCHROME installation and a picture I took of some awesome art conversation at my MFA show opening, smirks, flailing hands and all. Now it's obvious why I am suggesting picking it up. Anyhow, it is a good article, it isn't puffy or bitter. And Furnari poses a valid question: (the bold is my emphasis)
[S]tudents like Wenzel aren’t idly griping when they ask about the sustainability of the currently thriving apartment-gallery model or wonder about the logic of a dominant anti-institutional, anti-commercial genre of art-making when there are not many significant institutions or markets to be resisting. What are the aesthetics of resistance when the putative mainstream is a temporary fiction made up of an endlessly renewable slate of one-offs and cookouts? Is this a radical condition of possibility or an enervating cycle of optimism and disappointment?

Matthew Metzger • Re-release: Discourse • 2009 • acrylic & oil on panel


1 comment:

ec brown said...

Hey Erik,

That quote from Rachel got me quite excited. I've been dying to read some good pointed criticisms of the apartment gallery trend, particularly since I'm still embroiled in these projects. The writing about them in the past 2 years or so hasn't helped fuel any deep questioning.

To an extent, the reasons for the anti- stance have evaporated, artfair season notwithstanding. The difference I've sense about the latest outcropping of domestic exhibitions is that it has become quite normalized -- simply one acceptable avenue among others for artists wishing to exhibit. The real change has been in the audiences who have been more willing to see these exhibitions as normalized. Things were different when I graduated UIC in '96. There were plenty of apartment shows, loft shows, guerilla exhibitions -- but these were in some regard a resistance to the commercial galleries and also to the narrow straits of the existing alternative spaces. They could be regarded as interesting, but generally not taken as seriously. So -- everyone graduated, used Chicago as a brief practice-space, and fled.

I think it's an error to equate domestic projects with that anti- stance. Artists have flocked to gallerists for needs that they can satisfy on their own -- primarily: opportunities to exhibit and engage an audience. By taking charge of their own exhibiting and curating, they can develop their new work as a holistic enterprise, in tandem with strategies for contextual design, organizational and marketing schemes, and affiliations. Speaking from experience, acrylic painting is so much more fun this way.

I also think it would be a mistake for new grads to dismiss a diy approach as a fashionable trend (not that many artists are doing it) to avoid soiling themselves conceptually, or simply because they're tired of hearing praises about it. There is certainly an existing template for how these exhibitions are done, and that template really deserves to be stretched and remolded. The resulting work could be much better.

ec brown