Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Post 2: Rank, Miami Art Show 2010

#Rank events (non-discussion panel based) that I experienced (in some fashion) on Wed 12/1 & Thurs 12/2 at Seven in Miami 2010. (…more to come…)

I'm guessing you need neither the name of the artist, nor the name of the person pictured. (Art Basel Miami Beach 2010)

1.  Man Bartlett’s Measure (@manbartlett)
I only experienced this in passing, but I know he was out there measuring! I did meet him on this particular Wednesday as I had hoped.  I tweeted with him several times during his #24hKith performance (a live online streamed video in which he interacted with a twitter audience) and my first tweet to him during those 24 hrs was that I was unknown to him at that point (as he was to me, outside of twitter); my last was something about how we’d shake hands on Wednesday & that I’d be happy about it. (I meant those tweets that he read to be true for both him & myself, meaning, I’d hoped he would be happy to meet me also.) When he got that last tweet, I confused him about how exactly I’d be meeting him (“where will I be on Wednesday?” he’d asked, then “ah! in Miami!” he replied to himself.) And so… I shook hands with him on Wednesday night, and I was happy about it. As for his measuring project, what I did experience was Joanie San Chirico saying she had been measured by Man. She threw her arms wide and showed us how tall she is in this expansive way, which I think captures an art experience- we can’t see how tall we are until we stretch out our hands from side to side. Even then, we don’t get the whole picture. We are worth more than we can really see.
2. Paul Steen’s Art Assault (@paulsteenblake)
Another great capture of the art experience as I live it… I couldn’t figure out how to play the game. I couldn’t figure out who was even on my team! I was shooting the people on my team! OK, so basically, you play this video game in which you can shoot at all the art stars. I attempted, but clearly failed. But then something awesome happened. I crashed the system. In my opinion (does anything else count? ha!) I won. I won! But since the game was crashed, no one was there (in the video game world) to witness that I had won. I was all alone with my blank screen. Except my fellow art people who were seated/standing/chatting/drinking around me at the V.ery U.nimportant P.erson’s party for #Rank. We weren’t in the important world of the art (video) game, where all these notable artists were fighting it out on the streets with their fake weapons. We were seated in the real world. Where real connections count. So I got to turn to 2 people and say “I won!” I even told the creator of the game, Paul, that since I crashed the game, it meant I had won. He laughed and said it was OK. Don’t worry about it. Nice guy. 🙂 (Still- “Don’t worry about it?” I beat down the big bad art world, and it was a non-event. Sigh. I’ll log it in my journal of invisible experiences.)
3. Laura Isaac’s Where do YOU #Rank? Installation of People: @lauraisaacart
My assumption had been that Isaac would assign a #rank t-shirt to me, and I was curious- what would I get? “Nobody”? Instead, she had us choose for ourselves, and this was one of the interesting parts: people watching what people did for themselves when faced with a list of ranks to choose from. Do we downgrade ourselves? Upgrade? One new friend (who shall remain nameless) struggled over what to choose- I stood at her side and designated her an Art Fair artist. She hadn’t wanted to claim that for herself. I do believe that half the time we do need someone to promote us, it’s hard to promote ourselves. I decided to go with the Art Fair artist as well, instead of the Unknown one. Although I am unknown, in this case I decided to reach for something maybe grander. My brother (a non-artist outsider) looked at the t-shirts and could have chosen a general one meant (I think) for someone in his position. Instead (like me, it runs in the family?) he ranked up- he went for The Collector t-shirt. The best part is, he filled that role during the next few days in Miami, and he did start to envision himself as one who might begin to collect art.
I believe in reaching for something grand for ourselves- labeling ourselves on our own terms. So, maybe in some (a lot of) places, I am a nobody, a loser. But I actually categorically don’t believe that for myself, and on the other hand, I totally know it to be true. I know other people can think it about me. But it doesn’t change what I think for myself. We are all losers. Even the winners are losers. (Shhh- don’t tell them, they can’t handle knowing what we know.) I might be walking into the territory of people who play by different rules, but that doesn’t mean I will change my rules. I maintain my own definitions of who Wins. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
4. Stephen Truax’s Project Present (@stephentruax)
I wasn’t present for Project Present, but I wanted to be. I even brought art from home, and some paper to wrap it in. The project was interesting to me, but I got hung up on the definition of “excellent art.” I had art to bring, but “excellent”? Would they think so? I had never met these people, and I needed to have a grasp on where I stood with them, but I had nothing. And I started to picture those gift exchanges where someone is trying to get rid of their loot to get the higher prized item, and, well, I knew I couldn’t handle being the reject in that way. Besides, the only art I could manage to bring was a study for art I haven’t done yet, and I didn’t even like it very much. I realized, I can handle being rejected for something I believe in. I would be able to know quietly in myself that I had amazing work, and they just weren’t able to appreciate it… yet. But be rejected for work that I wanted to make excuses for? I could not handle it. I didn’t want to set my work (that I didn’t like) on the table and say it represented me. I spoke to Truax briefly just after his event as we sat next to each other for Christopher Ho’s talk on regionalism. He sincerely told his own story of how he experienced his own project, and he of course, participated despite his trepidations. And so, even though I also had these (as well as logistical) reasons for not making it to this event, I write about it because it had an impact on me, and I had to weigh out what I was willing to risk. In this case, I couldn’t do it. Weak. But true. I know my limits. I opted out of the battle with hopes of staying alive.
back of a restaurant sign on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Get it? Even Losers need a night to party!


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