I attended an art event in Chelsea at the Zach Feuer Gallery today put on by artist Mark Flood as a part of his new exhibition at the gallery called Art Star.
The show consists of a series of word paintings with sayings like “Museum Whores” and “Alleged Artists” and a video showing the judges from the Bravo TV show The Next Great Artist, but what the judges are saying is over-dubbed. Instead of giving real critiques, they are dubbed with computer generated voices and completely trashing the hypothetical artist they are discussing… then on the walls of the gallery are large canvases painted black in the center with borders of painted lace. (Lace paintings are works Flood has been known for in his career and how became known.)
The video tape of the judges was, for me, the most amusing part of the exhibition because of the cynicism Flood is showing about the whole way art is promoted by galleries and museums and how artists are commodified and sold.
Today’s event consisted of a panel of 10 men who all claimed to be Mark Flood, and 2 moderators who were there to ask the Mark Floods questions. One of the panel participants was actually Mark Flood, but he never identified himself as the “real artist” and similarly none of the questions that were asked of any of the Mark Floods sitting on the panel were answered seriously. All of the questions and answers were amusing and ironic, with one of the Mark Flood’s pretending to be a tree, another was a cat in a cage, and still others who pretended to represent some part of Mark Flood’s personality (narcissist, sell out, business person, musician, etc.).
Not too many years ago I would have found this kind of art exhibition completely ridiculous, but these days I think I can appreciate the humor and cynicism Flood is depicting in the show. The world of “high art” has become (has always been?) controlled by powerful forces and heavily driven by money. Who becomes the next “art star” has probably very little to do with actual talent and more to do with the proximity of an artist’s relationships to art power structures and influence.
Unfortunately though, I didn’t find the paintings in the exhibition to be “art star” worthy – but I could not figure out if that was purposeful by the artist. Perhaps Mark Flood wanted to create a set of paintings that would be seen as mediocre to underscore his point about how actual talent is irrelevant in the face of all these power structures at play. Or maybe the idea was that mediocre paintings are what galleries are selling today, along with the hype selected artists get by being represented by those galleries.
Regardless, I can appreciate the narrative commentary Flood provides in the word paintings and the video installation to underscore his points, plus the pointed humor he uses to get his message across. The art event today was a lot of fun, although I learned nothing more about Mark Flood as an artist by going, the 45 minutes I spent laughing at myself as an audience participant and laughing at the 10 Mark Floods give silly answers to silly questions makes light of what can normally be a serious endeavor to try and understand what an artist is trying to say with their work.
If you’re in the Chelsea area, I’d recommend checking out the exhibition… the gallery is located on 22nd near 11th Ave. and Art Star will be in residence there until October 15th.