Reading Groys can also be encouraging. In my case it confirms the avant-gardist qualifications of my work—surprising to me as much as anyone. One of the strongest pieces in his book Art Power is the opener, “The Logic of Equal Aesthetic Rights.”
“The classical avant-garde has struggled to achieve recognition of all signs, forms and things as legitimate objects of artistic desire and, hence, also as legitimate objects of representation in art…But the equality of all visual forms and media in terms of their aesthetic value does not mean an erasure of all differences between good art and bad art…Good art is precisely that practice which aims at confirmation of this equality…This gesture…has paradigmatic importance as a model for further repetitions…”
Clearly, my work asserts the aesthetic value of random stains, spills, blots and marks. Yet this is nothing new. What is new in my work is that I don’t hold up the stain itself, but the configuration of two or more stains that fit together in a way that challenges the appearance of chance. My arrangements are on the cusp of nature and art. They are a little this side of Motherwell’s splashes, or the collected stains of Ingrid Calame, a shade more “art” and less nature. This very small difference is enough to open a large field of possibilities—conceptual, political, aesthetic—and to sustain art in the way that Groys thinks it should be sustained. But also it posits a new understanding of the autonomy of art, one which challenges that espoused by Groys. Autonomy is not merely a description of the status of art in society—it is the autopoetic, the self-generating, and so a model of a society less ruled by abstract systems. Calame’s spills are “ready-made,” found
on the street, which for me is too much of a concession to convention, although her arrangements are nicely poised between accident and planning. Her work points to an infinity of stains in the world; mine point to an infinity of possible configurations in art, which erode formalism from within—but then what is that difference, really?